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G.    P.    PUTNAM'S    SONS 

First  Pullishid  1908 
New  Edition  -  1925 
Rqrinteel  -  -  1928 


IN  attempting  to  write  a  life  of  William  the 
Conqueror,  one  is  confronted,  at  the  outset,  by 
a  question  of  considerable  urgency.  The  mere 
details  of  the  King's  history,  if  full  discussion 
were  given  to  all  matters  which  have  been 
the  subjects  of  controversy,  would  far  exceed  the 
possible  limits  of  a  volume  to  be  included  in  the 
series  to  which  the  present  book  belongs.  On 
the  other  hand,  a  life  of  William  the  Conqueror 
which  ignored  the  changes  in  constitutional 
organisation  and  social  life  which  followed  the 
events  of  1066  would  obviously  be  a  very  imper- 
fect thing.  Accordingly,  I  have  reserved  the 
last  three  chapters  of  the  book  for  some  examina- 
tion of  these  questions;  and  I  hope  that  the 
footnotes  to  the  text  may  serve  as,  in  some  sort, 
a  guide  to  the  more  difficult  problems  arising  out 
of  the  Conqueror's  life  and  reign. 

There  is  no  need  to  enter  here  upon  a  description 
of  the  authorities  on  which  the  following  book 
is  based.  For  the  most  part  they  have  been  the 
subjects  of  thorough  discussion;  and,  with  one 
exception,  they  are  sufficiently  accessible  in  mod- 
ern editions.  The  writs  and  charters  issued  over 
England  by  William  I.  are  only  to  be  found  scat- 
tered among  a  great  number  of  independent 


iv  Preface 

publications;  and  the  necessity  of  forming  a  collcc^ 
tion  of  these  documents  has  materially  delayed 
the  appearance  of  the  present  work. 

It  remains  that  I  should  here  tender  my  thanks 
to  all  those  who  have  rendered  assistance  to  me 
during  the  writing  of  this  book.  In  particular 
I  would  express  my  gratitude  to  my  friend  Mr. 
Roland  Berkeley-Calcott,  and  to  the  general 
editor  of  this  series,  Mr.  H.  W.  C.  Davis.  To 
Mr.  Davis  I  am  indebted  for  invaluable  help  and 
advice  given  to  me  both  during  the  preparation 
of  the  book  and  in  the  correction  of  the  proof- 
sheets.  To  those  modern  writers  whose  works 
have  re-created  the  history  of  the  eleventh  cent- 
ury in  England  and  Normandy  I  hope  that  my 
references  may  be  a  sufficient  acknowledgment. 

V.  M.  S. 

August  27,  1908. 





THE      MINORITY      OK      DUKE      WILLIAM     AND     ITS 

RESULTS      .......          63 

REBELLION  AND  INVASION  ....          96 





BATTLE  OF  HASTINGS     .....        l8o 

PROM  HASTINGS  TO  YORK  .  .  .  .       21 J 


THE  DANISH  INVASION  AND  ITS  SEQUEL         .  .        267 




THE  CENTRAL  YEARS  OF  THE  ENGLISH  REIGN          .        304 

THE  LAST  YEARS  OP  THE  CONQUEROR  .  .        344 

WILLIAM  AND  THE  CHURCH          .  .  .  376 

ADMINISTRATION      .  .  .  .  .  .407 

DOMESDAY  BOOK       .  .  .  .  .457 

INDEX  .....  .        503 



SEAL  OP  WILLIAM  THE  CONQUEROR         Frontispiece 
From  Rymor's  Fcedcra  (published  1704). 

JUMIEGES  ABBEY — FACADE          ....          66 

Reproduced   by  permission   of  Levy  et  ses 
Fils,  Paris. 


Reproduced  by  permission   of  Levy  et  ses 
Fils,  Paris. 

THE  SIEGE  OP  DINANT        .....        140 

From  Vetitsta   Monumenta  of  the  Society  of 
Antiquaries    of    London    (published  1819). 

SEAL  OP  EDWARD  THE  CONFESSOR       .  .  .        148 

From  Rymcr's  Fcedcra  (published  1704). 

HAROLD  ENTHRONED  .  .  .  .  .158 


From  Vctnsta   Monumenta  of  the  Society  of 
Antiquaries  of  Lout/on  (published  1819). 

HAROLD'S  OATH       ......      162 


From   Vcliista  Monumenta  of  the  Society  of 
Antiquaries  of  London  (published  1819). 

THE    BUILDING    OP    HASTINGS    CASTLE  .  .       l88 


From    Vctusta  Monumenta  of  the  Society  of 
Antiquaries  of  London  (published  1819). 

viii  Illustrations 




Prom  Vctusta  Momwnenta  of  the  Society  of 
Antiquaries  of  London  (published  1819). 

POSSE  DISASTER,  BATTLE  OP  HASTINGS          .  .       204 


Reproduced  from  Vetusta  Monumenta  of  the 
Society  of  Antiquaries  of  London  (published 

ST.  JOHN'S  CHAPEL,  IN  THE  TOWER  OP  LONDON    .       228 

CHARTER  OP  WILLIAM  I.  TO  THE  LONDONERS        .       230 

Facsimile  prepared  by  F.  Madan,  JJ.  A., 
Reader  in  Palaeography  in  the  University 
of  Oxford. 



Reproduced  from  Train's  Social  England. 

Reproduced  from  a  photograph  by  Pitcher, 
Gloucester,  England. 

WILLIAM    THE    CONQUEROR        ....       360 

The  original  of  this  picture,  now  lost,  was 
painted  by  an  artist  when  the  tomb  of  the 
Conqueror  was  opened  in  1522*  A  copy  ex- 
ecuted in  1708,  is  preserved  in  the  sacristy 
of  St  Etienne's  Church  at  Caen;  the  present 
illustration  is  from  a  photograph  of  that 

Illustrations  ix 

REDUCED      FACSIMILE      OP      THE      CHARTER      OF 

Reproduced  from  Liber  Vita  of  \New  Minster 
and  Hyde  Abbey,  Winchester.    Edited  by 
W.  de  Gray  Birch. 

GAMEL  SON  OF  ORM^'s  SUNDIAL  .  .  .       388 

Prom  A  Short  Account  of  Saint  Gregory's 
Minster,  Kirkdale,  by  Rev.  F.  W.  Powell, 

WILLIAM'S  WRIT  TO  COVENTRY         .         .         .     420 
From  Facsimiles  of  Royal  and  Other  Charters  in 
the  British  Museum.    Edited  by  George  F. 
Warner  and  Henry  J.  Ellis. 


From  Victoria  History  of  the  Counties  of 

MENT       448 

Reproduced  from  Pateographical  Society's 
Facsimiles  of  Manuscripts  and  Inscriptions. 



Facsimiles  prepared  by  F.  Madan,  M.A., 
Reader  in  Palaeography  in  the  University 
of  Oxford. 

A   PORTION   OF   A  PAGE  OF  DOMESDAY  BOOK          .      466 

Facsimiles  prepared  by  F.  Madan,  M.A., 
Reader  in  Paleography  in  the  University 
of  Oxford. 

/:  Illustrations 



1 PENNY  OP  EDWARD  THE  CONFESSOR  .            ,  .62 

2  DENIER  OP  GEOFFREY  MARTEL             .             .  .          95 

2 DENIER  OF  HENRY  I.  OP  FRANCE        .             .  12$ 

2DENIER  OF  CONAN  II.  OF  BRITTANY               .  .       142 

2  PBNNY  OF  HAROLD  HARDRADA              .            .  -179 

1  PBNNY  OP  HAROLD  II.       .             .            .             .  2 1O 

2  DENIER  OF  BALDWIN  OP  LILLE            .             .  .266 
2  PENNY  OP  SWEGN  ESTUTHSON              .            .  .       303 

2  DENIER  OF  ROBERT  LE  PRISON            .            .  -343 
2 DENIER  OP  PHILIP  I.  OF  FRANCE         .             .  -       375 

3  PENNY  OP  WILLIAM  THE  CONQUEROR            .  .       406 
3 PENNY  OP  WILLIAM  THE  CONQUEROR            .  .       456 
3  PENNY  OP  WILLIAM  THE  CONQUEROR            .  .       $OI 



|  From  the  Catalogue  of  English  Coins  in  the  British  Museum, 

Anglo-Saxon  Series. 
8  Prom  the  Trait6  de  Numismatique  du  Moyeu  Age,  by  Arthur 

Engel  and  Raymond  Serrure. 
*From  the  Handbook  of  the  Coins  of  Great   Britain  and 

Ireland  in  British  Museum. 

Illustrations  xi 







COUNTIES     ......    64 

MAP  OF  YORKSHIRE  IN  1066-1087          .  .  .       268 

MAP  OF  WESTERN  NORMANDY    ....       360 
MAP  OF  ENGLAND  IN  1087  ....       374 

MAP  OF  EARLDOMS,  MAY,  Io68  .  .  .412 

MAP  OF  EARLDOMS,  JANUARY,   1075     .  .  .       414 

MAP  OF  EARLDOMS,  SEPTEMBER,  1087  .  .       4x6 



SINCE  the  current  of  barbarian  immigration 
which  overthrew  the  civilisation  of  Rome 
in  the  West,  probably  no  national  movement  of 
the  kind  has  more  profoundly  affected  the  general 
course  of  history  than  the  expansion  of  Scandi- 
navia which  fills  the  ninth  and  tenth  centuries. 
Alike  in  their  constructive  and  destructive  work, 
in  the  foundation  of  new  communities  on  con- 
quered soil,  as  in  the  changes  produced  by  reaction 
in  the  states  with  which  they  came  in  contact, 
the  Northmen  were  calling  into  being  the  most 
characteristic  features  of  the  political  system  of 
medieval  Europe.  Their  raids,  an  ever-present 
danger  to  those  who  dwelt  near  the  shores  of  the 
narrow  seas,  wrecked  the  incipient  centralisation  of 
the  Carolingian  Empire,  and  gave  fresh  impetus 
to  the  forces  which  were  already  making  for  that 
organisation  of  society  which  we  describe  as 
feudalism;  and  yet  in  other  lands  the  Northmen 
were  to  preserve  their  own  archaic  law  and  social 
custom  longer  than  any  other  people  of  Germanic 

2  William  the  Conqueror 

stock.  The  Northmen  were  to  bring  a  new  racial 
element  into  the  life  of  Western  Europe,  but 
whether  that  element  should  adapt  itself  to  the 
conditions  of  its  new  environment,  or  whether 
it  should  develop  new  forms  of  political  associa- 
tion for  itself,  was  a  question  determined  by  the 
pre-existing  facts  of  history  and  geography. 

For  the  geographical  extent  of  .Scandinavian 
enterprise  is  as  remarkable  as  its  political  in- 
fluence. At  the  close  of  the  third  quarter  of  the 
tenth  century  it  seemed  likely  that  the  future 
destinies  of  northern  Europe  would  be  controlled 
by  a  great  confederation  of  Scandinavian  peoples. 
In  the  parent  lands  of  Norway,  Denmark,  and 
Sweden  three  strong  kingdoms  had  been  created 
by  Harold  Fair  Hair,  Gorm  the  Old,  and  Eric  of 
Upsala;  the  Orkneys  and  Shetlands  formed  a 
Norwegian  earldom,  and  a  number  of  vigorous 
Norse  principalities  had  been  planted  along  the 
east  coast  of  Ireland.  In  the  extreme  north 
Scandinavian  adventurers  were  already  settling 
the  inhospitable  shores  of  Greenland,  and  lawless 
chieftains  from  Norway  had  created  the  strange 
republic  of  Iceland,  whose  stormy  life  was  to 
leave  an  imperishable  memorial  in  the  wonderful 
literature  of  its  sagas.  Normandy  was  still  the 
"pirates'  land"  to  the  ecclesiastical  writers  of 
France,  and  the  designation  was  correct  in  so 
far  that  the  duchy  still  maintained  frequent 
relations  with  the  Scandinavian  homeland  and 
had  as  yet  received  no  more  than  a  superficial 

Introduction  3 

tincture  of  Latin  Christianity.  England,  at  the 
date  we  have  chosen,  was  enjoying  a  brief  respite 
between  two  spasms  of  the  northern  peril,  but 
the  wealthiest  portion  of  the  land  was  Scandina- 
vian in  the  blood  of  its  inhabitants,  and  within 
twenty  years  of  the  close  of  the  century  the  whole 
country  was  to  be  united  politically  to  the  Scan- 
dinavian world. 

The  comparative  failure  of  this  great  association 
of  kindred  peoples  to  control  the  subsequent 
history  of  northern  Europe  was  due  in  the  main 
to  three  causes.  In  the  first  place,  over  a  great 
part  of  this  vast  area  the  Scandinavian  element 
was  too  weak  in  mere  numbers  permanently  to 
withstand  the  dead  weight  of  the  native  popula- 
tion into  which  it  had  intruded  itself.  It  was 
only  in  lands  such  as  Iceland,  where  an  autoch- 
thonous population  did  not  exist,  or  where  it  was 
reduced  to  utter  subjugation  at  the  outset,  as  in 
the  Orkneys,  that  the  Scandinavian  element  per- 
manently impressed  its  character  upon  the  politi- 
cal life  of  the  community.  And  in  connection 
with  this  there  is  certainly  to  be  noted  a  distinct 
decline  in  the  energy  of  Scandinavian  enterprise 
from  about  the  middle  of  the  eleventh  century 
onward.  For  fully  a  hundred  years  after  this 
time  the  Northern  lands  continued  to  send  out 
sporadic  bodies  of  men  who  raided  more  peaceful 
countries  after  the  manner  of  the  older  Vikings, 
but  Scandinavia  produced  no  hero  of  more  than 
local  importance  between  Harold  Hardrada  and 

4  William  the  Conqueror 

Gustavus  Vasa.  The  old  spirit  was  still  alive  in 
the  North,  as  the  stories  of  the  kings  of  Norway 
in  the  Heimskringla  show;  but  the  exploits  of 
Magnus  Bareleg  and  Sigurd  the  Jcrusulcni-farcr 
are  of  far  less  significance  in  general  history 
than  the  exploits  of  Swegen  Forkbeard  and  Olaf 
Tryggvasson,  and  trade  and  exploration  more  and 
more  diverted  the  energy  which  in  older  times 
would  have  sought  its  vent  in  warlike  adventure. 
And  of  equal  importance  with  either  of  the  causes 
which  have  just  been  described  must  be  reckoned 
the  attraction  of  Normandy  within  the  political 
system  of  France.  By  this  process  Normandy 
was  finally  detached  from  its  parent  states;  it 
participated  ever  more  intimately  in  the  national 
life  of  France,  and  the  greatest  achievement  of 
the  Norman  race  was  performed  when,  under  the 
leadership  of  William  the  Conqueror,  it  finally 
drew  England  from  its  Scandinavian  connections, 
and  united  it  to  the  richer  world  of  western 
Europe.  It  was  the  loss  of  England  which  defi- 
nitely compelled  Scandinavia  to  relapse  into  iso- 
lation and  comparative  political  insignificance. 

But  the  Norman  Conquest  of  England  was  a 
many-sided  event,  and  its  influence  on  the  political 
destiny  of  Scandinavia  is  not  its  most  important 
aspect.  The  events  of  1066  derive  their  peculiar 
interest  from  the  fact  that  they  supply  a  final 
answer  to  the  great  problem  which  underlies 
the  whole  history  of  England  in  the  eleventh 
century— the  problem  whether  England  should 

Introduction  5 

spend  the  most  critical  period  of  the  Middle  Ages 
in  political  association  with  Scandinavia  or  with 
France.  The  mere  fact  that  the  question  at 
issue  can  be  stated  in  this  simple  form  is  of  itself 
a  matter  of  much  significance ;  for  it  implies  that 
the  continuance  of  the  independent  life  of  England 
had  already  in  1000  become,  if  not  an  impossibility, 
at  least  a  very  remote  contingency.  To  explain 
why  this  was  so  will  be  the  object  of  the  following 
pages,  for  it  was  the  weakness  of  the  Anglo-Saxon 
polity  which  permitted  the  success  of  William 
of  Normandy,  as  it  gave  occasion  of  conquest  to 
Cnut  of  Denmark  before  him,  and  the  ill  govern- 
ance on  which  their  triumph  was  founded  takes 
its  main  origin  from  events  which  happened  a 
hundred  years  before  the  elder  of  them  was  born. 
At  the  beginning  of  the  third  quarter  of  the 
ninth  century,  England  was  in  a  state  of  utter 
chaos  under  the  terrible  strain  of  the  Danish 
wars.  Up  to  the  present  it  has  not  been  possible 
to  distinguish  with  any  certainty  between  the 
various  branches  of  the  great  Scandinavian  race 
which  co-operated  in  the  attack  on  England,  nor 
is  the  question  of  great  importance  for  our  im- 
mediate purpose.  The  same  may  be  said  of 
the  details  of  the  war,  the  essential  results  of 
which  were  that  the  midland  kingdom  of  Mercia 
was  overrun  and  divided  in  874  into  an  English 
and  a  Danish  portion;  that  England,  north  of  the 
Humber,  became  a  Danish  kingdom  in  or  about 
875;  and  that  Wessex,  after  having  been  brought 

6  William  the  Conqueror 

to  the  brink  of  ruin  by  that  portion  of  the  Northern 
host  which  had  not  founded  a  permanent  settle- 
ment in  the  north,  was  saved  by  its  King  Alfred 
in  a  victory  which  he  won  over  the  invaders  at 
Edington  in  Wiltshire,  in  878,  As  a  result  of  this 
battle,  and  of  some  further  successes  which  ho 
gained  at  a  later  date,  Alfred  was  enabled  to  add 
to  his  dominions  that  half  of  the  old  kingdom  of 
Mercia  which  the  Danes  had  not  already  appro- 
priated1; a  district  which  included  London  and 
the  shires  west  of  Buckinghamshire,  Northamp- 
tonshire, Leicestershire,  and  Derbyshire.  For 
the  first  half  of  the  tenth  century,  the  main  in- 
terest of  English  history  centres  round  the  rela- 
tions between  the  rulers  of  Wcssex  and  its  Mercian 
dependency,  and  the  people  of  the  Danelaw. 

As  the  final  result  of  twenty  years  of  incessant 
warfare,  the  Danes  had  succeeded  in  establishing 
three  independent  states  on  English  soil.  Guth- 
rum,  the  leader  with  whom  Alfred  hod  fought 
at  Edington,  founded  in  East  Anglia  and  the 
eastern  midlands  a  short-lived  kingdom  which 

» The  boundary  of  the  Danelaw  in  its  full  extent  is  proved 
by  certain  twelfth-century  lists  of  shires  which  divide  England 
into  "Westsexenelage,"  "  Mirchenelage,"  and  "  Dnnclagi*." 
With  regard  to  earlier  times,  the  territory  of  the  Pi  ve  Boroughs 
is  delimited  by  the  fiscal  peculiarities  described  1x*1ow  (Chapter 
XII.),  and  the  kingdom  of  Northumbria  substantially  cor- 
responds with  Yorkshire  as  surveyed  in  Dtwwsdtiy  itovkt  but 
it  is  very  uncertain  how  far  Guthrum's  kingdom  extended 
westward  after  his  final  peace  with  Alfred.  London  was 
annexed  to  Wessex,  but  the  boundary  does  not  seem  to  have 
coincided  in  any  way  with  the  later  county  divisions. 

Introduction  7 

had  been  reconquered  by  Edward  the  Elder  before 
his  death  in  or  about  924.  To  the  north  of 
Guthrum's  kingdom  came  the  singular  association 
of  the  Five  Boroughs  of  Derby,  Nottingham, 
Lincoln,  Leicester,  and  Stamford,  whose  territory 
most  probably  comprised  the  shires  to  which  the 
first  four  of  them  have  given  name,  together  with 
Rutland  and  north-east  Northamptonshire.  Apart 
from  its  anomalous  government,  of  which  nothing 
is  really  known,  this  district  is  distinguished  from 
Guthrum's  kingdom  by  the  fact  that  the  Danish 
invaders  settled  there  in  great  numbers,  founded 
many  new  villages,  and  left  their  impress  upon 
the  administrative  and  fiscal  arrangements  of 
the  country.  The  Five  Boroughs  were  occupied 
by  Edward  the  Elder  and  conquered  by  his 
son  Edmund,  but  their  association  was  remem- 
bered in  common  speech  as  late  as  the  time  of  the 
wars  of  Ethelred  and  Swegen,  and  the  district, 
as  surveyed  in  Domesday  Book,  is  distinguished 
very  sharply  from  the  shires  to  its  south  and 

Beyond  the  Huniber  the  Northmen  had  founded 
the  kingdom  of  York,  which  maintained  its  inde- 
pendent existence  down  to  Athelstan's  time  and 
which  was  only  connected  with  the  south  of 
England  by  the  slackest  of  political  ties  when 
William  the  Conqueror  landed  at  Pevensey.  In 
this  kingdom,  whose  history  is  very  imperfectly 

*  See  below,  Chapter  XII. 

8  William  the  Conqueror 

known,  but  of  which  abundant  numismatic 
memorials  remain,  the  Norwegian  clement  appears 
to  have  predominated  over  the  Danish  and  its 
kings  were  closely  connected  with  the  rulers  of 
the  Norse  settlements  in  Ireland-  Rut  the  pe- 
culiar importance  of  this  Northumbrian  kingdom 
lies  in  the  persistent  particularism  which  it  con- 
tinued to  display  long  after  it  had  been  nominally 
merged  in  the  kingdom  of  the  English.  Its 
inhabitants  were  barbarous  beyond  the  ordinary 
savagery  of  the  Anglo-Saxons,  and  bitterly  re- 
sented any  attempt  to  make  them  conform  In  the 
low  standard  of  order  which  obtained  elsewhere  in 
the  land.  Among  so  anarchical  a  people,  it  would 
be  useless  to  look  for  any  definite  political  ideas, 
and  the  situation  was  complicated  by  the  uni<  >n 
of  Scandinavian  Yorkshire  with  English  Hornicia 
in  one  earldom,  so  that  it  is  difficult  in  say 
how  far  the  separatist  spirit  of  Northumbria  was 
due  to  the  racial  differences  which  distinguished 
it  from  the  rest  of  the  land,  how  far  to  surviving 
memories  of  the  old  kingdom  which  had  exist  oil 
before  the  wars  of  the  ninth  century,  and  how  far 
to  simple  impatience  of  ordered  rule  by  whomso- 
ever administered.  But  the  existence* of  such  a 
spirit  is  beyond  all  doubt;  it  manifested  itself  in 
957  when  Northumbria  joined  with  Mcrcia  in 
rejecting  King  Edwy  of  Wcsscx;  it  is  strikingly 
illustrated  in  the  northern  legend  which  repre- 
sents the  sons  of  Ethelrcd  the  Unready  as  offering 
Northumbria  to  Olaf  of  Norway  as  the  price  of 

Introduction  9 

his  assistance  in  their  struggle  with  Cnut;  it  came 
to  the  front  in  1065,  when  the  northern  men  re- 
belled against  their  southern  earl,  Tostig  God- 
winsson;  it  culminated  in  the  resistance  which 
they  offered  to  William  of  Normandy,  and  was 
finally  suppressed  in  the  harrying  to  which  he 
subjected  their  province  in  the  winter  of  1069. 
For  a  century  and  a  half  the  men  of  Northumbria 
had  persisted  in  sullen  antagonism  to  the  political 
supremacy  of  Wessex. 

But  the  fact  remained  that  within  fifty  years  of 
Alfred's  death  the  house  of  Wessex  had  succeeded 
in  extending  its  sway,  in  name  at  least,  over  all  the 
Scandinavian  settlers  within  the  limits  of  England. 
The  "Rex  Westsaxonum"  had  become  the  "Rex 
Anglorum,"  and  Edmund  and  Edgar  ruled  over  a 
kingdom  which  to  all  appearance  was  far  more 
coherent  than  the  France  of  Louis  d'Outremer 
and  Hugh  Capet.  But  the  appearance  was  very 
deceptive,  and  the  failure  of  the  kings  of  Wessex 
was  so  intimately  connected  with  the  success  of 
William  the  Conqueror  that  its  causes  demand 
attention  here. 

In  the  first  place,  the  assimilation  of  the  Scan- 
dinavian settlers  into  the  body  of  the  English 
nation  should  not  hide  from  us  the  fact  that  a 
new  and  disturbing  element  had  in  effect  been 
intruded  into  the  native  population.  This  amal- 
gamation was  very  far  from  resulting  in  a  homo- 
geneous compound.  The  creation  of  the  "Dane- 
law" in  its  legal  sense — that  is,  a  district  whose 

io  William  the  Conqueror 

inhabitants  obeyed  a  new  law  perfectly  distinct 
from  that  of  any  native  kingdom—was  an  event  of 
the  greatest  consequence.  It  imposed  a  tangible 
obstacle  to  the  unification  of  the  country  which 
was  never  overcome  until  the  entire  system  of 
old  English  law  had  become  obsolete.  The  very 
fact  that  the  geographical  area  of  the  Danelaw  did 
not  correspond  with  that  of  any  English  kingdom 
or  group  of  kingdoms  makes  its  legal  individual- 
ity all  the  more  remarkable.  The  differences  of 
customary  practice  which  distinguished  the  east 
from  the  west  and  south  were  a  permanent  wit- 
ness to  the  success  of  the  Danes  in  England  and 
they  applied  to  just  those  matters  which  concerned 
most  deeply  the  ordinary  life  of  the  common 
people.  A  man  of  Warwickshire  would  realise  the 
fact  that  his  limbs  were  valued  at  a  higher  or 
lower  rate  than  those  of  his  neighbour  of  Leicester- 
shire, when  he  would  be  profoundly  indifferent  to 
the  actions  of  the  ruler  of  both  counties  in  the 
palace  at  Winchester. 

More  important  for  our  purpose  than  these 
general  legal  peculiarities  were  the  manifold 
anomalies  of  the  Old  English  land  law*  Were  it 
not  for  the  existence  of  Domesday  Book  we  should 
be  in  great  part  ignorant  of  the  main  features  of 
this  system;  as  it  is  we  need  have  no  hesitation  in 
carrying  back  the  tcnurial  customs  which  obtained 
in  1066  well  beyond  the  beginning  of  the  century. 
So  far  as  the  evidence  before  us  at  present  goes, 
it  suggests  that  for  an  indefinite  period  before  the 

Introduction  n 

Norman  Conquest  the  social  structure  of  the 
English  people  had  remained  in  a  condition  of 
unstable  equilibrium;  in  a  state  intermediate 
between  the  primitive  organisation  of  Anglo- 
Saxon  society  and  the  feudalism,  though  rudi- 
mentary, of  contemporary  France.  However 
strong  the  tie  of  kindred  may  have  been  in  drawing 
men  together  into  agrarian  communities  in  former 
days,  by  the  eleventh  century  at  latest  its  influence 
had  been  replaced  by  seignorial  pressure  and  the 
growth  of  a  manorial  economy.  Of  itself  this 
was  a  natural  and  healthy  process,  but  in  England, 
from  a  variety  of  causes  it  had  been  arrested  at 
an  early  stage.  The  relationship  between  lord  and 
man  was  the  basis  of  the  English  social  order, 
but  this  relationship  over  a  great  part  of  the 
country  was  still  essentially  a  personal  matter;  its 
stability  had  not  universally  acquired  that  tenur- 
ial  guarantee  which  was  the  rule  in  the  Prankish 
kingdom.  The  ordinary  free  man  of  inferior  rank 
was  expected  to  have  over  him  a  lord  who  would  be 
responsible  for  his  good  behaviour,  but  the  evi- 
dence which  proves  this  proves  also  that  in  num- 
berless cases  the  relationship  was  dissoluble  at 
the  will  of  the  inferior  party.  In  the  Domesday 
survey  of  the  eastern  counties,  for  example,  no 
formula  occurs  with  more  striking  frequency  than 
that  which  asserts  that  such  and  such  a  free  man 
"could  depart  with  his  land  whither  it  pleased 
him";  a  formula  implying  clearly  enough  that 
the  man  in  question  could  withdraw  himself  and 

12  William  the  Conqueror 

his  land  from  the  control  of  his  temporary  lord, 
and  seek,  apparently  at  any  time,  another  patron 
according  to  the  dictate  of  his  own  fancy.  In  such 
a  system  there  is  room  for  few  only  of  the  ideas 
characteristic  of  continental  feudalism;  it  is  clear 
that  the  man  in  no  effective  sense  holds  his  land 
of  his  lord,  nor  is  the  former's  tenure  conditional 
upon  the  rendering  of  service  to  the  latter.  The 
tie  between  lord  and  man  was  that  of  patronage 
rather  than  vassalage;  and  its  essential  instability 
meant  that  the  whole  of  the  English  social  order 
was  correspondingly  weak  and  unstable.  The  Old 
English  state  had  accepted  the  principle  that  a 
man  must  needs  look  for  protection  to  someone 
stronger  than  himself,  but  it  had  not  advanced 
to  the  further  idea  that,  for  the  mere  sake  of 
social  cohesion,  the  relationship  thus  created 
must  be  made  certain,  permanent,  and,  so  far  as 
might  be,  uniform  throughout  the  whole  land. 

On  the  whole  it  is  probable  that  this  result 
was  mainly  due  to  the  peculiar  settlement  which 
the  Danish  question  had  received  in  the  early  tenth 
century.  Had  the  Danes  conquered  Wcssex  in 
Alfred's  time,  so  that  the  whole  of  England  had 
been  parcelled  out  among  four  or  five  independent 
Scandinavian  states,  the  growth  of  seignorial  con- 
trol over  free  men  and  their  land  might  have  been 
indefinitely  postponed.  Had  Alfred's  successors  • 
been  able  to  effect  the  incorporation  of  the  Dane- 
law with  the  kingdom  of  Wessex,  the  incipient 
manorialism  of  the  south  might  have  been  extended 

Introduction  13 

to  the  east  and  a  rough  uniformity  of  custom  in 
bhis  way  secured,  giving  scope  for  the  gradual 
development  of  feudalism  according  to  the  con- 
tinental model.     But  the  actual  course  of  history 
decided  that  the  native  kingdom  of  Wessex  should 
survive,  assert  its  superiority  over  the  Scandina- 
vian portion  of  the  land,  and  yet  be  unable  to 
achieve  the  conformity  of  its  alien  subjects  to  its 
pwn  social  organisation.    Such  at  least  is  the 
conclusion  suggested  to  us  by  the  evidence  of 
Domesday  Book.    Broadly  speaking,  Wessex  and 
its  border  shires  had  presented  in  1066  social 
phenomena  which  Norman  lawyers  were  able  to 
co-ordinate  with  the  prevailing  conditions  of  their 
native   land.    In    Wessex   each   village   would 
probably  belong  to  a  single  lord,  its  land  would 
fall  into  the  familiar  divisions  of  demesne  and 
"terra  villanorum,"  its  men  would  owe  labour 
service  to  their  master.    But  beyond  the  Warwick 
Avon  and  the   Watling    Street,   the   Normans 
encountered  agrarian  conditions  which  were  evi- 
iently  unfamiliar  to  them,  and  to  which  they 
sould  not  easily  apply  the  descriptive  formula 
which  so  admirably  suited  the  social  arrange- 
ments of    the  south.    They  had   no   previous 
knowledge  of  wide  tracts  of  land  whose  inhabi- 
tants knew  no  lord  of  lower  rank  than  king,  earl, 
or  bishop;  of  villages  which  furnished  a  meagre 
subsistence  to  five,  eight,  or  ten  manorial  lords; 
of  estates  whose  owner  could  claim  service  from 
men  whose  dwellings  were  scattered  over  half  a 

14  William  the  Conqueror 

county-  In  twenty  years  the  Normans,  by  con- 
scious alterations,  had  done  more  to  unify  the 
social  custom  of  England  than  had  been  accom- 
plished by  the  gradual  processes  of  internal  devel- 
opment in  the  previous  century;  but  it  was  the 
social  division,  underlying  the  obvious  political 
decentralisation  of  the  country,  which  had  sent 
down  the  Old  English  state  with  a  crash  before 
the  firsb  attack  of  the  Normans  themselves. 

But  social  evils  of  this  kind  do  their  work 
beneath  the  surface  of  a  nation's  history,  and  it  is 
the  complete  decentralisation  of  the  Old  English 
commonwealth  which  first  occurs  to  our  minds 
when  we  wish  to  explain  the  double  conquest 
which  the  land  sustained  in  the  eleventh  century  ; 
a  decentralisation  expressed  in  the  creation  of 
the  vast  earldoms  which  controlled  the  politics  of 
England  in  the  last  years  of  its  independence. 
The  growth  of  these  earldoms  is  in  many  respects 
obscure;  to  a  limited  extent  they  represent  old 
kingdoms  which  had  lost  their  independence,  but 
in  the  main  they  are  fortuitous  agglomerations 
of  territory,  continually  changing  their  shape  as 
the  intrigues  of  their  holders  or  the  political 
sense  of  the  king  of  Wessex  might  from  time  to 
time  determine.  Prom  the  narrative  of  the 
Danish  war  presented  by  the  Anglo-Saxon  Chron- 
icle, it  seems  certain  that  each  county  south  of 
Thames  possessed  an  earl  of  its  own  in  the  ninth 
century;  but  this  arrangement  appears  to  have 
been  modified  by  Edward  the  Elder,  and  it  has 

Introduction  15 

been  estimated  that  from  the  accession  of  Edward 
to  the  close  of  the  tenth  century  Wessex  and 
English  Mercia  were  divided  into  a  group  of 
earldoms  whose  number  never  exceeded  eight, 
a  change  which  inevitably  magnified  the  im- 
portance of  the  individual  earl.  In  the  mean- 
time, Northumbria  and  the  territory  of  the  Five 
Boroughs  were  being  ruled  by  men  of  Scandinavian 
blood,  who  claimed  the  title  of  earl  but  are  very 
rarely  found  in  attendance  at  the  courts  of  the 
King  of  Wessex.1  In  the  wars  of  Etheked  II.  and 
Edmund  Ironside  with  Swegen  and  Cnut,  the 
issue  of  each  campaign  is  decided  by  the  attitude 
of  such  men  as  Aelfric,  ealdorman  of  Hampshire, 
or  Eadric  of  Mercia,  to  whom  it  belonged  of 
right  to  lead  the  forces  of  their  respected  earldoms, 
and  who  seem  to  have  carried  their  troops  from 
one  side  to  the  other  without  being  influenced 
in  the  smallest  degree  by  any  tie  of  allegiance 
which  would  bind  them  permanently  to  either 
the  English  or  the  Danish  king.  To  Cnut  himself 
is  commonly  attributed  a  reorganisation  of  the 
earldoms,  in  which  their  number  was  temporarily 
reduced  to  four,  and  in  which  for  the  first  time 
Wessex  as  a  whole  was  placed  on  an  equality 
with  the  other  provincial  governments.  The  sim- 
plicity of  this  arrangement  was  soon  distorted 
by  the  occasional  dismemberment  of  the  West 
Saxon  and  Mercian  earldoms,  and  by  the  creation 
of  subordinate  governments  within  their  limits; 
»  Chadwick,  Stiid-ies  in  Anglo-Saxon  Institutions,  chapter  v. 

16  William  the  Conqueror 

but  throughout  the  reign  of  Edward  the  Con- 
fessor it  is  the  carls  of  Wessex,  Herein,  East 
Anglia,  and  Northumbria  who  direct;  I  ho  policy 
of  the  kingdom. 

The  privileges  and  powers  inherent  in  the  dig- 
nity of  an  earl  were  very  considerable.  We  have 
already  referred  to  his  military  authority,  but  he 
also  seems  to  have  enjoyed  a  judicial  prerogative 
overriding  the  competence  of  the  local  assemblies 
of  the  hundred.  His  wcrgild  was  seemingly  fixed 
at  a  higher  rate  than  that  of  the  ordinary  noble, 
and  the  fine  paid  to  him  for  a  breach  of  his  peace 
was  half  the  amount  which  would  be  paid  to  the 
king,  and  double  the  amount  paid  to  the  thegn  on 
account  of  a  similar  offence.1  More  important 
from  the  standpoint  of  politics  was  the  fact  that 
in  every  shire  certain  lands  seem  to  have  been 
appurtenant  to  the  comital  office,2  and  these 
lands  formed  a  territorial  nucleus  around  which 
an  unscrupulous  man  like  Godwinc  could  gather 
the  vast  estates  of  which  Domesday  reveals  him 
to  have  been  in  possession.  In  practice,  too,  it 
was  the  earls  who  seem  to  he  ve  gained  more 
than  any  other  men  of  rank  by  1  ic  growth  of  that 
system  of  patronage  which  h:  .  been  described 
in  a  preceding  paragraph;  the  latural  influence 
of  their  position  attracted  to  them  the  unattached 
free  men  of  their  spheres  of  government,  and  they 
became  possessed  of  a  body  of  personal  retainers 

»  Chadwick,  op.  cit. 

*  Maitland,  Domesday  Book  and  fttvond,  107. 

Introduction  17 

who  might  be  expected  to  fight  for  them  at  any 
crisis  in  their  fortunes  and  who  would  not  be 
unduly  scrupulous  as  to  the  causes  of  a  quarrel  in 
which  they  might  be  called  upon  to  take  part. 
Fortified  by  such  advantages,  the  earls  were  able 
at  an  early  date  to  make  their  dignities  hereditary 
under  all  normal  circumstances,  and  the  attempt 
of  Ethelred  to  nominate  an  earl  of  his  own  choice 
to  Mercia  in  the  person  of  Eadric  Strebna,  and  of 
Edward  the  Confessor  to  displace  the  house  of 
Godwine  in  Wessex  in  1051,  led  to  disaster  in 
each  case,  though  the  occasion  of  the  respective 
disasters  was  somewhat  different. 

Just  as  the  power  of  the  great  earls  limited  the 
executive  freedom  of  the  monarchy,  so  in  general 
matters  of  policy  the  king's  will  was  circumscribed 
by  the  opinion  of  the  body  of  his  counsellors,  his 
Witanagemot.  Now  and  then  a  strong  king  might 
perhaps  enforce  the  conformity  of  his  witan  to  his 
personal  wishes;  but  the  majority  of  the  later 
Anglo-Saxon  kings  were  not  strong,  and  when, 
on  rare  occasions,  we  obtain  a  glimpse  into  the 
deliberations  of  the  king  and  the  wise  men,  it 
is  the  latter  who  decide  the  course  of  action  which 
shall  be  pursued.1  That  this  was  a  serious  evil 
cannot  possibly  be  disputed.  The  political  su- 
premacy of  the  Witanagemot  bears  no  analogy  to 
constitutional  government  in  the  modern  sense 
of  the  term :  the  witan  were  not  responsible  to  the 
nation;  they  were  not,  in  fact,  responsible  to 

i  See  the  account  of  the  council  at  Bretf ord,  below,  page  6 1 , 

1 8  William  the  Conqueror 

anybody,  for  a  king  who  tried  to  insist  on  their 
obedience  to  his  will  might  find  himself,  like 
Ethelred  II.,  deserted  by  his  leading  nobles  at 
some  critical  moment.  Also,  if  we  estimate  the 
merit  of  a  course  of  policy  by  its  results,  we  shall 
not  be  disposed  to  rate  the  wisdom  of  the  wise  men 
very  highly.  In  1066  England  was  found  with 
an  obsolete  army,  a  financial  system  out  of  all 
relation  to  the  facts  on  which  it  was  nominally 
based,  and  a  social  order  lacking  the  prerequi- 
sites of  stability  and  consistency;  that  the  country 
had  recently  received  a  comprehensive  restatement 
of  its  ancient  laws  was  due  not  to  its  wise  men, 
but  to  its  Danish  conqueror  Cnut.  The  compo- 
sition of  the  Witanagemot — a  haphazard  collec- 
tion of  earls,  bishops,  royal  officials,  and  wealthy 
thegns — afforded  no  security  that  its  leading 
spirits  would  be  men  of  integrity  and  intelligence ; 
if  it  gave  influence  to  men  like  Dunstan  and  Earl 
Leofric  of  Mercia,  men  who  were  honestly  anxious 
to  further  the  national  welfare,  it  gave  equal 
influence  to  unscrupulous  politicians  like  Eatlric 
Streona  and  Godwine  of  Wessex.  The  results  of 
twenty-five  years  of  government  by  the  Witanage- 
mot would  supply  a  justification,  if  one  were 
needed,  for  the  single-minded  autocracy  of  the 
Anglo-Norman  kings. 

The  early  history  of  the  Witanagemot,  like  that 
of  so  many  departments  of  the  Anglo-Saxon 
constitution,  is  beset  by  frequent  difficulties;  but 
it  seems  certain  that  the  period  following  the 

Introduction  ig 

middle  of  the  tenth  century  witnessed  a  great 
extension  of  its  actual  influence.  In  part,  no 
doubt,  this  is  due  to  the  increasing  power  of  its 
individual  members,  on  which  we  have  already 
commented  in  the  case  of  the  earls,  but  we' 
certainly  should  not  fail  to  take  into  account  the 
personal  character  of  the  kings  of  England  during 
this  time.  The  last  members  of  the  royal  house 
of  Wessex  are  a  feeble  folk.  Their  physical  weak- 
ness is  illustrated  less  by  the  rapidity  with  which 
king  succeeded  king  in  the  tenth  century — for 
Edmund  and  Edward  the  Martyr  perished  by 
violence — than  by  the  ominous  childlessness  of 
members  of  the  royal  house.  Of  the  seven  kings 
whose  accession  falls  within  the  tenth  century, 
four  died  without  offspring.  The  average-  fertility 
of  the  royal  house  is  somewhat  raised  by  the 
enormous  family  of  Ethelred  the  Unready;  but 
fifty  years  after  his  death  his  male  line  was  solely 
represented  by  an  old  man  and  a  boy,  neither  of 
whom  was  destined  to  leave  issue.  Nor  do  the 
kings  of  this  period  appear  in  a  much  more 
favourable  light  when  judged  by  their  political 
achievements.  Edward  the  Elder,  Athelstan, 
and  Edmund  make  a  creditable  group  of  sovereigns 
enough,  though  their  success  in  the  work  they 
had  in  hand,  the  incorporation  of  Scandinavian 
England  into  the  kingdom  of  Wessex,  was,  as 
we  have  seen,  extremely  limited.  Edred,  the 
next  king,  crippled  as  he  was  by  some  hopeless 
disease,  made  a  brave  attempt  to  assert  the 

20  William  the  Conqueror 

supremacy  of  Wcsscx  ewer  the  midlands  and  north, 
but  Echvy  his  successor  was  a  mere  child,  and 
under  him  the  southern  kingdom  once  more 
becomes  bounded  by  the  Thames  and  Bristol 
Avon.  The  reign  of  Edgar  was  undoubtedly 
regarded  by  the  men  of  the  next  generation  as  a 
season  of  good  law  and  governance,  ami  the  king 
himself  is  portrayed  as  a  model  prince  by  the 
monastic  historians  of  the  twelfth  century;  but 
on  the  one  hand  the  long  misery  of  Ethel  red's 
time  of  itself  made  men  look  back  regret  fully  to 
Edgar's  twenty  years  of  comparative  quirt,  and 
also  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  king's  asso- 
ciation with  St.  Dunstan  gave  him  a  specious 
advantage  in  the  eyes  of  posterity.1  Nothing  in 
Edgar's  recorded  actions  entitles  him  to  be  re- 
garded as  a  ruler  of  exceptional  ability.  The  short 
reign  of  Edward  the  Martyr  is  fully  occupied  by 
the  struggle  between  the  monastic  party  anil  its 
opponents,  in  which  the  young  king  cannot  be 
said  to  play  an  independent  part  at  all,  and  the 
twenty  years  during  which  Ethel  red  II.  miscon- 
ducted the  affairs  of  England  form  a  period  which 
(for  sheer  wretchedness  probably  has  no  equal  in 
the  national  history.  Had  Ethclred  been  a  ruler 
of  some  political  capacity,  his  title  of  '*  the  Un- 
ready/' in  so  far  as  it  implies  an  unwillingness 
on  his  part  to  submit  to  the  dictation  of  the 
Witanagemot,  would  be  a  most  honourable  mark 
of  distinction;  but  the  series  of  inopportune 
»  See  Plummcr,  Life  and  Times  of  Alfred  thv  Great,  07. 

Introduction  21 

acts  i  and  futile  expedients  which  mark  the  exer- 
cise of  his  royal  initiative  were  the  immediate 
causes  of  a  national  overthrow  comparable  only 
to  the  Norman  conquest  itself.  With  Edmund 
Ironside  we  reach  a  man  who  has  deservedly  won 
for  himself  a  place  in  the  accepted  list  of  English 
heroes  and  we  may  admit  his  claim  to  be  reckoned 
a  bright  exception  to  the  prevailing  decadence 
of  the  West  Saxon  house,  while  at  the  same  time 
we  realise  that  the  circumstances  of  his  stormy 
career  left  him  no  opportunity  of  showing  how 
far  he  was  capable  of  grappling  with  the  social  and 
political  evils  which  were  the  undoing  of  his 
country.  And  then,  after  twenty-five  years  of 
Danish  rule,  the  mysterious  and  strangely  un- 
attractive figure  of  Edward  the  Confessor  doses  the 
regnal  line  of  his  ancient  dynasty.  Of  Edward 
we  shall  have  to  speak  at  more  length  in  the 
sequel,  noting  here  only  the  fact  that  under  his 
ineffective  rule  all  the  centrifugal  tendencies  which 
we  have  considered  received  an  acceleration  which 
flung  the  Old  English  state  into  fragments  before 
the  first  impact  of  the  Norman  chivalry. 

It  follows  from  all  this  that,  according  to  what- 
ever standard  of  political  value  we  make  our 
judgment,  the  England  of  the  tenth  and  eleventh 
centuries  will  be  found  utterly  lacking  in  all 
qualities  which  make  a  state  strong  and  keep  it 

1  "Unready"  here  represents  the  A.  S.  unr&dig — "devoid 
of  counsel " — and  is  applied  to  Ethelrcd  because  of  his  inde- 
pendence of  the  advice  of  the  witan. 

22  William  the  Conqueror 

efficient.  The  racial  differences  which  existed 
within  the  kingdom  were  stereotyped  in  its  laws. 
The  principles  which  underlay  its  social  structure 
were  inconsistent  and  incoherent.  It  possessed  no 
administrative  system  worthy  of  the  name  and 
the  executive  action  of  its  king  was  fettered 
by  the  independence  of  his  counsellors  and  ren- 
dered ineffective  by  the  practical  autonomy  of 
the  provincial  governments  into  which  the  land 
was  divided.  The  ancient  stock  of  its  kings  had 
long  ceased  to  produce  rulers  capable  of  rectify- 
ing the  prevailing  disorganisation  and  was  shortly 
to  perish  through  the  physical  sterility  of  its 
members.  Nor  were  these  political  evils  counter- 
balanced by  excellence  in  other  fields  of  human 
activity.  Great  movements  were  afoot  in  the 
rest  of  Europe.  The  Normans  were  revolution- 
ising the  art  of  war.  The  Spanish  kingdoms  were 
trying  their  young  strength  in  the  first  battles 
of  the  great  crusade  which  fills  their  medieval 
history;  in  Italy  the  great  conception  of  the 
church  purified,  and  independent  of  the  feudal 
world,  was  slowly  drawing  towards  its  realisation. 
England  has  nothing  of  the  kind  to  show;  her 
isolation  from  the  current  of  continental  life  was 
almost  complete,  and  the  great  Danish  struggle 
of  the  ninth  century  had  proved  to  be  the  last 
work  undertaken  by  independent  England  for 
the  cause  of  European  civilisation.  In  Alfred ,  the 
protagonist  of  that  struggle,  the  royal  house  of 
Wessex  had  given  birth  to  a  national  hero,  but 

Introduction  23 

no  one  had  completed  the  task  which  he  left 


On  turning  from  the  history  of  England  between 
950  and  1050  to  that  of  Normandy  during  the 
same  period,  one  is  conscious  at  once  of  passing 
from  decadence  to  growth;  and  this  although  the 
growth  of  the  Norman  state  was  accompanied  by 
an  infinity  of  disorder  and  oppression,  and  the 
decadence  of  England  was  relieved  by  occasional 
manifestations  of  the  older  and  more  heroic 
spirit  of  the  race.  Nothing  is  more  wonderful 
in  Norman  history  than  the  rapidity  with  which 
the  pirates'  land  became  transformed  into  a 
foremost  member  of  the  feudal  world  of  France, 
and  the  extraordinary  rapidity  of  the  process 
seems  all  the  more  remarkable  from  the  sparseness 
of  our  information  with  regard  to  it.  The  story 
of  the  making  of  Normandy,  as  told  by  the  Nor- 
man historians,  is  so  infected  with  myth  that 
its  barest  outlines  can  scarcely  now  be  recovered. 
We  can,  however,  see  that  during  the  ninth 
century  the  north  and  west  coasts  of  France  had 
been  subjected  to  an  incessant  Scandinavian 
attack  similar  in  character  to  the  contemporary 
descents  which  the  Northmen  were  making  upon 
England.  It  is  also  certain  that  the  settlement 
of  what  is  now  Normandy  did  not  begin  until 
thirty  or  forty  years  after  the  conquest  of  the 

24  William  the  Conqueror 

English  Danelaw,  and  that  for  a  considerable,  if 
indefinite,  term  of  years  new  swarms  of  Northmen 
were  continually  streaming  up  the  valleys  which 
debouch  on  the  Channel  seaboard.  Of  Rollo,  the 
traditional  founder  of  the  Norman  state,  nothing 
is  definitely  known.  The  country  from  which 
he  derives  his  origin  is  quite  uncertain.  Nor- 
wegian sagamen  claimed  him  for  one  of  their 
own  race,  the  Normans  considered  him  to  be  a 
Dane,  and  a  plausible  case  has  been  made  out  for 
referring  him  to  Sweden.1  His  followers  were 
no  doubt  recruited  from  the  whole  of  the  Scan- 
dinavian north,  but  it  is  probable  that  the  great 
mass  of  the  orignal  settlers  of  Normandy  wore  of 
Danish  origin,  and  therefore  closely  akin  to  the 
men  who  in  the  previous  century  had  found  a 
home  in  the  valleys  of  the  Yorkshire  Ouse  and 
Trent.  As  in  the  case  of  Guthrum  in  East  Anglia 
the  conquests  of  Rollo  were  defined  by  a  treaty 
made  between  the  invading  chief  and  the  native 
potentate  of  greatest  consequence ;  and  the  agree- 
ment known  in  history  as  the  treaty  of  Claire  stir 
Epte  is  the  beginning  of  Norman  history*  Great 
obscurity  overhangs  the  terms  of  this  settle- 
ment, and  we  cannot  define  with  any  approach 
to  certainty  the  extent  of  territory  ceded  by  it  to 
the  Northmen.2  On  the  east  it  is  probable 
that  the  boundary  line  ran  up  the  Epte,  thence 
to  the  Bresle,  and  so  down  that  stream  to  the 
port  of  Eu;  but  the  extension  of  the  original 
»  E.  H.  R.,  vii.,  209.  i  See  Eckel,  Cfartes  to  Simple. 

Introduction  25 

Normandy  towards  the  west  is  very  uncertain,  and 
with  regard  to  its  southern  frontier  there  was  still 
room  in  the  eleventh  century  for  border  disputes 
in  which  William  the  Conqueror  became  engaged 
at  an  early  date.  The  succeeding  history,  how- 
ever, proves  clearly  enough  that  the  Bessin, 
Cotentin,  and  Avranchin  formed  no  parts  of 
Normandy  as  delimited  at  Claire  sur  Epte,  and 
it  was  in  this  last  quarter,  peopled  by  an  influx  of 
later  immigrants,  that  the  Scandinavian  element 
in  the  duchy  presented  the  most  obstinate  resist- 
ance to  Romance  influences. 

The  prince  with  whom  Rollo  had  concluded  this 
memorable  treaty  was  Charles  III.,  king  of  the 
West  Franks,  and  the  reputed  descendant  of 
Charlemagne.  The  importance  of  the  settlement 
of  Claire  sur  Epte  lay  in  the  future,  and  in  its 
immediate  significance  it  was  little  more  than 
an  episode  in  a  struggle  which  had  been  carried 
on  for  nearly  half  a  century  between  the  Caro- 
lingian  sovereign  and  the  powerful  house  of  the 
counts  of  Paris,  of  which  the  head  at  this  time 
was  Robert,  the  grandfather  of  Hugh  Capet. 
The  conquests  of  Rollo  had  been  made  at  the 
expense  of  Count  Robert,  and  Charles  III.  in  his 
session  of  Normandy,  like 'Alfred  in  the  treaty  of 
Wedmore,  was  abandoning  to  an  invading  host 
a  district  which  had  never  been  under  his  imme- 
diate rule.  It  was  certain  that  the  counts  of 
Paris  would  sooner  or  later  attempt  to  recover  the 
valley  of  the  lower  Seine,  and  this  fact  produced  an 

26  William  the  Conqueror 

alliance  between  the  first  two  dukes  of  Normandy 
and  their  Carolingian  overlords  which  lasted  for 
twenty  years.  The  exact  nature  of  the  legal 
tie  which  united  the  earliest  dukes  of  Normandy 
to  the  king  of  Prance  is  a  disputed  question,  but 
we  may  well  doubt  whether  Rollo  had  done  more 
than  commend  himself  personally  to  Charles  III., 
and  it  is  not  even  certain  that  the  Viking  leader 
had  received  baptism  at  the  time  when  he  per- 
formed the  act  of  homage.  As  a  final  question 
which  still  awaits  settlement,  we  may  note  that 
the  date  of  the  treaty  of  Claire  sur  Epte  is  itself 
'  uncertain,  but  that  921  seems  the  year  to  which 
with  most  probability  it  may  be  referred. 

If  this  is  so,  the  conclusion  of  this  settlement 
must  have  been  the  last  event  of  importance  in 
the  reign  of  Charles  III.,  for  in  922  he  was  over- 
thrown by  his  enemy  Robert  of  Paris,  and  spent 
the  remaining  eight  years  of  his  life  in  prison. 
Robert  thereupon  assumed  the  title  of  king,  hut 
was  killed  in  923 ;  and  the  crown  passed  to  Rudolph 
of  Burgundy,  who  held  it  until  936.  On  his 
death  the  royal  title  was  offered  to  Hugh,  sur- 
named  the  Great,  count  of  Paris,  but  he  pre- 
ferred to  restore  the  Carolingian  line,  rather  than 
to  draw  upon  himself  the  enemity  of  all  his 
fellow-nobles  by  accepting  the  precarious  throne 
himself.  Charles  III.  had  married  Eadgifu,  one 
of  the  many  daughters  of  Edward  the  Elder  of 
Wessex,  and  Louis-  the  Carolingian  heir  was 
residing  at  Athelstan's  court  when  Hugh  of  Paris 

Introduction  27 

called  on  him  to  accept  his  inheritance.  'The 
refusal  of  Hugh  the  Great  to  accept  the  crown 
did  not  materially  improve  the  relations  existing 
between  the  Carolingian  house  and  the  Parisian 
county,  and  Louis  "from  beyond  the  sea"  found 
it  expedient  to  maintain  the  alliance  which  his 
father  had  founded  with  the  Norman  lords  of 
Rouen.  But,  long  before  the  accession  of  Louis 
d'Outremer,  Rollo  the  old  pirate  had  died,  and 
William  Longsword,  his  son,  felt  himself  less 
vitally  dependent  on  the  support  of  the  king 
of  the  Franks.  In  the  confused  politics  of  the 
period  William  was  able  to  assert  a  freedom  in 
making  and  breaking  treaties  and  in  levying 
external  war  no  less  complete  than  that  which 
was  enjoyed  by  the  other  princes  of  France.  In 
general  he  remained  true  to  the  Carolingian  friend- 
ship ;  and  at  the  close  of  his  reign  Normandy  and 
the  French  monarchy  were  jointly  opposed  to 
the  Robertian  house,  leagued  with  the  counties 
of  Vermandois  and  Flanders.  The  latter  county, 
in  particular,  was  directly  threatened  by  the 
growth  of  a  powerful  state  within  striking  distance 
of  her  southern  borders;  and  in  943  William 
Longsword  was  murdered  by  Arnulf  of  Flanders, 
the  grandson  of  Alfred  of  England. 

We  should  naturally  wish  to  know  in  what  way 
the  foundation  of  Normandy  was  regarded  by  the 
contemporary  rulers  of  England.  It  is  gener- 
ally assumed,  and  the  assumption  is  reasonable 
enough,  that  Athelstan  feared  the  assistance  which 

28  William  the  Conqueror 

the  Normans  might  give  to  the  men  of  the  Dane- 
law, and  that  he  endeavoured  to  anticipate  any 
movement  on  the  part  of  the  former  by  forming 
a  series  of  marriage  alliances  with  powers  capable 
of  forcing  Normandy  to  remain  on  the  defensive. 
It  is  probable  that  Athelstan's  sister  Kadliikl 
married  Hugh  the  Great,1  the  natural  enemy  of 
William  Longswonl,  and  we  know  that.  Atheist  an 
lent  his  support  to  Alan  Barbctorlc,  who  at  this 
time  was  struggling  with  indifferent  success  to 
preserve  Brittany  from  being  overrun  by  Norman 
invaders.  On  the  other  hand,  it  would  be  easy 
to  exaggerate  the  solidarity  of  feeling  which 
existed  between  the  Northmen  in  Normandy  ami 
in  England;  nor  do  our  authorities  countenance 
the  belief  that  the  various  continental  marriages 
of  Athelstan's  sisters  formed  part;  of  any  con- 
sistent scheme  of  policy.  There  is  no  evidence 
that  direct  political  intercourse  existed  at.  any 
time  between  Athelstan  and  William  Longsword; 
although  we  know  that  the  Englishmen  who 
were  appointed  by  the  king  to  negotiate  for  the. 
reception  of  Louis  d'Outromcr  in  France  paid  a 
visit  to  the  court  of  Rouen. 

The  murder  of  William  Longsworcl  was  followed 
by  the  first  of  the  two  minorities  which  occur 
in  Norman  history,  for  Richard  the  illegitimate 
heir  of  the  late  duke  was  only  a  child  of  ten  on 
his  father's  death.  The  opportunity  was  too 

>  This  identification  cannot  be  considered  certain.  S*-o 
Flodoard,  cd.  P.  Latier. 

Introduction  29 

good  to  be  missed,  and  Louis  d'Outremer  succeeded 
for  a  brief  period  in  making  himself  master  of 
Normandy,  not  improbably  asserting  as  a  pretext' 
for  his  intervention  a  claim  to  the  guardianship 
of  the  young  duke.  Whatever  its  legal  foundation 
Louis's  action  outraged  the  political  individuality 
of  the  duchy,  and  when  Richard  came  to  years  of 
discretion  he  abandoned  the  traditional  Caro- 
lingian  friendship  and  attached  himself  to  the  ' 
Robertian  house.  He  commended  himself .  to 
Hugh  the  Great,  and  thus  began  a  friendship  be- 
tween the  lords  of  Paris  and  their  Norman  neigh- 
bours which  continued  for  nearly  a  century  and 
was  not  the  least  among  the  causes  which  enabled 
the  Robertian  house  in  987  to  crown  its  existing 
pre-eminence  with  the  royal  title.  The  reign 
of  Richard  I.  lasted  for  more  than  fifty  years,  and 
the  history  of  Normandy  during  this  period  is 
extremely  obscure,  but  there  can  be  no  question 
that  it  witnessed  the  gradual  consolidation  of  the 
duchy,  and  its  no  less  gradual  absorption  into 
the  political  system  of  France. 

The  seventh  year  of  the  reign  of  Richard  II. 
was  marked  by  an  event  of  the  first  importance 
for  the  history  of  both  England  and  Normandy 
—the  marriage  of  Ethelred  II.  and  Emma  the 
duke's  sister.  England  was  at  the  time  in  the 
very  centre  of  the  great  Danish  war  which  marks 
the  close  of  the  tenth  and  the  beginning  of  the 
eleventh  century,  and  it  is  distinctly  possible  that 
the  match  may  have  been  prompted  by  a  desire 

30  William  the  Conqueror 

on  Ethelred's  part  to  close  the  Norman  harbours 
to  his  enemies'  ships.  But,  apart  from  all  dubious 
attributions  of  political  motive,  the  importance 
of  the  marriage  lies  in  the  fact  that  Normandy 
remains  thenceforward  a  permanent  factor  in 
English  politics.  The  marriage  must  have  pro- 
duced an  immediate  immigration  of  Normans  into 
England;  so  early  as  1003  we  find  a  French  reeve 
of  Queen  Emma  in  charge  of  the  city  of  Exeter. 
The  mere  union  of  the  dynasties — the  marriage 
of  the  representative  of  the  ancient  and  decadent 
royal  house  of  Wessex  to  the  great-granddaughter 
of  the  pirate  chief  Rollo — was  alone  a  sufficiently 
striking  event.  But  by  chance  it  happened  that 
the  strain  of  Norman  blood  in  the  offspring  of  the 
marriage  came  of  itself  to  produce  political  results 
of  the  gravest  consequence.  No  one  in  1 002  could 
foresee  that  the  new  queen  would  bear  a  son  whose 
early  life  would  be  passed  in  exile  in  his  mother's 
land,  and  who  would  return  thence  to  his  father's 
inheritance  saturated  with  Norman  ideas  of  the 
art  of  government;  still  less  could  anyone  foresee 
that  in  virtue  of  this  marriage  a  Norman  duke 
would  one  day  claim  the  throne  of  England  by 
right  of  inheritance.  But  less  striking  results 
of  the  new  alliance  would  soon  enough  become 
apparent.  The  ubiquitous  Norman  trader  would 
become  a  more  frequent  visitor  to  the  English 
ports,  and  Normandy  would  at  once  become  a 
friendly  land  to  Englishmen  crossing  the  Channel 
for  purposes  of  trade  or  pilgrimage.  Nor  should 

Introduction  31 

the  marriage  be  considered  exclusively  from  the 
English  standpoint.  The  reception  of  a  Norman 
princess  as  queen  of  England  proved  at  least 
that  the  Norman  duke  was  no  longer  a  barbarian 
intruder  among  the  higher  nobility  of  France; 
he  might  not  be  a  sovereign  prince  as  yet,  but 
he  was  certainly  a  ruler  of  greater  consequence 
beyond  the  borders  of  the  French  kingdom  than 
were  any  of  his  fellow-vassals  of  the  French  crown. 
It  is  true  that  the  alliance  of  1002  marks  no 
immediate  change  in  the  French  relations  of  the 
duke  of  Normandy;  his  energies  were  still  con- 
fined to  the  petty  struggles  which  he,  like  his 
father  and  grandfather,  carried  on  with  varying 
success  against  this  neighbour  or  that.  But 
events  were  soon  to  prove  how  strong  a  state  had 
really  been  created  in  Normandy  by  the  obscure 
dukes  of  the  tenth  century,  and  the  marriage 
of  Ethelred  and  Emma  pointed  to  the  quarter  in 
which  the  strength  of  Normandy  would  find 
its  field  at  last. 

It  must  be  owned  that  we  can  only  describe 
the  internal  condition  of  Normandy,  as  it  existed 
at  the  beginning  of  the  eleventh  centuiy,  in 
very  general  terms.  Normandy,  like  the  rest 
of  the  French  kingdom,  was  passing  through 
a  phase  in  which  the  legislative  power  of  the 
sovereign  was  in  abeyance;  and  in  default  of 
written  laws  we  can  only  rely  upon  the  in- 
cidental information  afforded  by  legal  docu- 
ments or  by  the  casual  expressions  of  later 

32  William  the  Conqueror 

chroniclers.1  But  the  m:iin  features  of  Norman 
feudalism  at  this  time  are  fairly  certain,  ami  suf- 
ficient to  point  a  contrast  with  the  contemporary 
constitution  of  England  in  almost  every  particular 
in  which  the  details  of  the  two  systems  are  known 
to  us.1 

In  the  first  place,  vassalage  had  become  local- 
ised in  Normandy.  The  relationship  between  lord 
and  man  would  in  most  cases  imply  that  the 
latter  held  his  land  of  the  former.  So  far  as  wo 
can  tell,  the  course  of  Norman  feudalism  started 
from  a  point  of  departure  different  from  that  with 
which  the  English  system  takes  its  origin.  The 
history  of  the  terms  employed  to  designate  de- 
pendent tenure  seems  to  make  this  clear.  At  an 
early  date  a  great  man's  vassal  will  hold  of  him 
a  prcatriitm;  he  will  be  a  tenant  at  will,  his 
tenure  will  be  revocable  at  his  lord's  instance. 
To  the  prccariiim  succeeds  the  bcucfahtm;  a 
term  which  sufficiently  expresses  the  fact  that 
the  tenant's  rights  over  his  land  are  derivable 
from  his  lord,  although  it  docs  not,  like  the  older 
word,  imply  their  temporary  character.  In  the 
meantime,  the  hereditary  principle  in  regard  to 
dependent  tenure  is  continually  securing  u  wider 
extension,  and  the  fcudttin,  the  fee,  the  term 
which  ultimately  supplanted  the  prccariiwt  and 

» The  main  features  of  Norman  society  in  the  eleventh 
century  are  describe*!  in  outline  by  Pollock  atui  Mnitlaml, 
History  of  English  Law,  i.»  chapter  iii.,  on  which  the  following 
sketch  is  founded, 

Introduction  33 

beneficiwn,  denotes  an  estate  which  will  in  the 
normal  course  of  things  descend  to  a  tenant's 
heir.  Sonic  such  succession  of  ideas  can  distinctly 
he  traced  in  the  Prankish  kingdom,  and  the  Anglo- 
Saxon  land  books  here  and  there  contain  words 
and  phrases  which  suggest  that  the  English  land 
law  would  have  followed  a  similar  development, 
had  it  not  been  arrested  by  the  general  dislocation 
of  society  occasioned  by  the  wars  of  the  ninth 
century.  The  wide  estates  with  which  the  newly 
converted  kings  of  Wessex,  the  Hwicce  and  the 
Middle  Angles,  endowed  the  churches  founded  in 
their  dominions  afforded  an  excellent  field  for  the 
growth  of  dependent  tenure,  which  was  not  neg- 
lected by  thegn  and  free  man,  anxious  to  partici- 
pate in  the  wealth  of  the  saints  by  virtue  of 
discharging  military  obligations  which  monks  and 
clerks  could  not  perform  in  person.  But  the 
Danish  wars  stripped  the  eastern  churches  of 
their  possessions  and  peopled  the  eastern  counties 
with  settlers  of  approximately  equal  rank;  and 
when  in  the  century  before  the  Norman  Conquest 
the  land  loan  reproduces  many  of  the  features  of 
the  continental  precarium,  it  appears  as  an  exotic 
institution  rather  than  as  a  normal  development 
of  previous  tenurial  custom.  It  would  be  very 
easy  to  exaggerate  the  distinction  which  exists 
between  England  and  Normandy  in  this  matter; 
the  mass  of  our  contemporary  information  abouli 
Old  English  land  tenure  relates  to  ecclesiastical 
estates;  but  with  Domesday  Book  before  us  we 

34  William  the  Conqueror 

cannot  doubt  that  the  distinction  was  very  real 
and  of  deep  importance  in  connection  with  the 
other  divergent  features  of  the  Anglo-Saxon  social 

Everything,  then,  seems  to  show  that,  for  at 
least  a  hundred  years  before  1086,  dependent 
tenure  and  the  hereditary  descent  of  fiefs  had 
been  recognised  features  of  the  land  system  of 
Normandy.  We  also  know  that  these  principles 
had,  long  before  the  conquest  of  England,  pro- 
duced their  corollaries  in  the  rights  of  wardship, 
marriage,  and  relief,  which  a  lord  would  enjoy 
upon  occasion  with  reference  to  his  vassals.1 
Women  were  capable  of  inheriting  land  and  Nor- 
man custom  allowed  at  least  to  the  duke  the 
privilege  of  choosing  a  husband  for  his  female 
vassal.  The  rights  of  assuming  the  guardianship 
of  a  minor's  land,  and  of  receiving  a  money  pay- 
ment upon  the  succession  of  a  new  heir,  were 
obvious  developments  of  the  originally  precarious 
character  of  the  fief,  and  we  shall  see  that  King 
Henry  of  Prance  exercised  the  former  right 
over  Normandy  itself  upon  the  death  of  Duke 
Robert  in  1035.  There  does  not  seem  to  be  any 
direct  evidence  for  the  existence  of  the  relief 
as  a  Norman  custom  before  1066,  but  its  appear- 
ance in  England  immediately  after  the  Conquest  is 
sufficient  proof  of  its  previous  recognition  by  the 

i  The  scanty  evidence  which  exists  on  this  matter  is 
summarised  by  Pollock  and  Maitland,  H.  E.  L.,  chapter  iii., 
and  by  Haskins,  B.  H.  R.>  Oct.,  1907. 

Introduction  35 

feudal  law  of  Normandy.  None  of  these  customs, 
so  far  as  we  can  tell,  had  found  a  place  in  the  social 
system  of  independent  England. 

Private  jurisdiction  was  undoubtedly  an  es- 
sential feature  of  Norman  feudalism,  though  we 
may  well  doubt  whether  the  principles  on  which 
it  was  based  had  ever  been  defined  by  Norman 
lawyers.  It  is  also  clear  that  the  duke  possessed 
upon  occasion  the  power  of  overruling  the  judg- 
ment of  his  barons,  and  that  his  exercise  of  this 
power  was  applauded  by  all  who  were  interested 
in  the  welfare  of  the  humbler  classes  of  society. 
The  military  character  of  feudalism  made  it 
imperative  that  there  should  be  some  power  in 
the  land  capable  of  vindicating  right  by  force,  and 
the  stronger  dukes  of  Normandy  were  not  .slow 
in  the  assertion  of  their  judicial  supremacy.  How 
far  the  ubiquitous  manorial  court  of  Norman 
England  represents  an  imitation  of  continental 
practice,  and  how  far  it  is  referable  to  the  "sake 
and  soke"  possessed  by  Anglo-Saxon  thegns,  is 
a  difficult  question,  and  the  explanation  given 
by  the  legal  writers  of  the  generation  succeeding 
the  Conquest  must  be  reserved  for  a  later  chapter. 

It  is,  however,  clear,  that  one  custom  which 
to  modern  ideas  would  be  ruinous  to  any  social 
order  distinguishes  Norman  life  from  that  of 
England  in  the  eleventh  century.  Private  war 
was  a  recognised  custom  in  Normandy.  For 
obvious  reasons  this  custom  was  fenced  round 
with  stringent  regulations;  the  duke's  license 

36  William  the  Conqueror 

was  necessary  before  a  campaign  could  be  opened 
and  its  conduct  was  subject  to  his  general  super- 
vision.    But  private  war  is  separated  by  no  certain 
barrier  from  anarchy,  and  under  a  weak  duke 
or  during  a  minority  the  barons  oC  Normandy 
would  take  the  law  into  their  own  hands.     Herein 
lay  the  real  cause  of  the  disorders  which  prevailed 
during  the  minority  of  William  the  Conqueror; 
and  in  the  abeyance  of  state  intervention  the 
church  endeavoured  with  considerable  success  to 
confine  the  practice  within  reasonable  limits.    The 
Truce  of  God,  in  the  limitations  which  it  en- 
forced upon  the  operations  of  war,  made  life  more 
tolerable  for  peasant  and  burgess,  but  it  was  at 
best  an  inefficient  substitute  for  the  hand  of  a 
strong  ruler.    William  the  Conqueror  made  good 
peace  in  Normandy,  as  well  as  in  England,  and 
we  may  well  doubt  whether  even  private  war,  so 
long  as  its  legal  sanctions  were  respected,  was  not 
less  harmful  to  the  well-being  of  a  community 
than  were  the  savage  outbreaks  of  internal  strife 
which  from  time  to  time  occurred  under  the 
helpless  government  of  Edward  the  Confessor. 

The  exact  nature  of  the  feudal  tie  which  bound 
the  duke  of  Normandy  to  the  king  of  Prance  is  a 
very  difficult  question.1  It  undoubtedly  com- 
prised all  those  obligations  which  were  implied  in 
the  performance  of  the  act  of  homage,  but  these 
would  vary  indefinitely  in  stringency  according 
to  the  status  of  the  parties  concerned.  An  oath 

1  vSee  on  this  matter  F.  Lot,  Fid-Mrs  ou  Vasswx, 

Introduction  37 

of  fealty  and  service  was  certain  to  be  kept 
only  so  long  as  the  man  to  whom  the  oath  was 
sworn  could  compel  its  observance  by  the  threat 
of  confiscation.  When  made  between  two  parties 
who  were  for  effective  purposes  equal  in  power, 
there  was  no  certainty  that  the  oath  would  imply 
more  than  an  assertion  of  dependence  on  the  part 
of  the  man  who  swore.  On  the  other  hand,  it 
would  be  an  error  to  regard  the  homage  which 
a  duke  of  Normandy  paid  to  his  overlord  merely 
as  a  ceremonial  form.  Even  in  the  early  feudal 
times  the  sense  of  personal  honour  would  generally 
serve  to  prevent  a  man  from  wantonly  attacking 
his  lord.  William  the  Conqueror,  whenever  possi- 
ble, refrained  from  violating  the  fealty  which  he 
had  sworn  to  King  Henry ;  and  if  put  on  his  defence 
for  his  conduct  at  Varaville,  he  would  probably 
have  pleaded  that  the  necessity  of  self-preserva- 
tion outweighed  all  other  considerations.  But  in 
earlier  times  the  maintenance  of  feudal  relations 
between  Normandy  and  France  was  less  dependent 
upon  the  personal  loyalty  of  the  reigning  duke. 
Occasionally,  the  king  of  France  will  confirm  the 
grants  of  land  with  which  the  duke  of  Normandy 
endowed  some  religious  house;  he  may,  as  we 
have  seen,  claim  the  right  of  wardship  over  a  duchy 
during  a  minority.  Also,  it  should  not  be  forgotten 
that  in  the  case  of  the  dukes  between  Richard 
I.  and  Robert  I.  the  traditional  alliance  between 
Normandy  and  the  Capetian  dynasty  disguised  the 
practical  autonomy  of  the  former.  So  long  as  the 

38  William  the  Conqueror 

knights  of  Normandy  were  at  the  disposal  of 
the  king  of  France  for  an  attack  upon  Flanders 
or  Blois,  the  king  would  not  be  concerned  to 
argue  the  question  whether  they  were  furnished 
to  him  in  obedience  to  his  claim  to  feudal  service, 
or  merely  in  pursuance  of  the  territorial  interests 
of  his  vassal. 

Within  the  limits  of  his  territory,  the  duke 
of  the  Normans  enjoyed  an  almost  absolute  sov- 
ereignty. The  external  limitation  of  his  author- 
ity— the  suzerainty  of  the  king  of  France — was 
at  its  strongest  very  ineffectual,  and  within  the 
duchy  the  barons  were  to  an  exceptional  degree 
subject  to  the  ducal  power.  All  the  members 
of  the  Norman  baronage  stood  very  much  on  a 
level,  in  regard  to  the  extent  of  their  fiefs,  and  the 
political  influence  which  any  individual  baron 
might  from  time  to  time  exercise  depended 
mainly  on  his  personal  favour  with  the  duke. 
Here  and  there  among  the  mass  of  the  Norman 
nobility  we  meet  with  a  family  claiming  a  more 
ancient  origin  and  a  purer  descent  than  that  of 
the  ducal  house,  and  disposed  towards  insurrection 
thereby;  but  such  cases  are  highly  exceptional, 
and  the  names  which  are  of  most  significance  in 
the  history  of  William  the  Conqueror  are  those 
of  men  who  held  official  positions  at  his  court, 
or  were  personally  related  to  his  line.  In  Nor- 
mandy there  were  no  baronies  of  the  first  rank,  and 
the  number  of  counties  was  small;  also  most  of 
them,  by  the  policy  of  dukes  Richard  I.  and  II., 

Introduction  39 

had  been  granted  on  appanages  to  junior  mem- 
bers of  the  reigning  family.  One  striking  excep- 
tion to  the  territorial  significance  of  the  Norman 
baronage  existed  in  the  great  fief  of  Bell&ne, 
which  lay  on  the  border  between  Normandy 
and  Maine,  and  was  regarded  as  dependent  on  the 
French  crown.1  The  lords  of  Bell&ne  in  early 
times  are  certainly  found  behaving  as  sovereign 
princes,  but  it  fortunately  happened  that  the 
male  line  of  the  family  became  extinct  during 
William's  reign,  and  a  standing  obstacle  to  the 
centralisation  of  the  duchy  was  removed  when 
Mabel,  the  heiress  of  this  formidable  house,  carried 
its  vast  possessions  to  her  husband,  the  duke's 
loyal  friend,  Roger  de  Montgomery. 

The  ecclesiastical,  like  the  lay,  baronage  of 
Normandy  had  no  members  fitted  by  their  terri- 
torial influence  to  lead  an  opposition  to  the 
ducal  power.  The  greater  abbeys  of  Normandy, 
F6camp,  St.  Wandrille,  Jumfeges,  had  been  founded 
or  refounded  by  the  dukes  themselves,  and  the 
restoration  of  the  western  bishoprics  had^mainly 
been  the  pious  work  of  Richard  I..  The  re- 
establishment  of  the  Norman  episcopate  after  the 
disorder  of  the  settlement  could  never  have  been 
effected  had  it  not  been  for  the  countenance 
afforded  to  the  movement  by  successive  dukes, 
and  the  connection  between  church  and  state 
in  Normandy  was  peculiarly  intimate.  The 

1  See  Histoire  G£n$ral  de  France,  Les  Premiers  Capetiens, 
p.  90;  also  Soehne*e,  Catalogue  des  Actes  d'Henri  ler  No.  38. 

40  William  the  Conqueror 

rights  of  patronage,  elsewhere  jealously  guarded 
by  the  king  of  the  French,  in  Normandy  belonged 
to  the  duke,  and  his  power  of  nominating  the 
official  leaders  of  the  church  enabled  him  to 
govern  the  whole  ecclesiastical  policy  of  the  land. 
Naturally,  there  occur  from  time  to  time  gross 
instances  of  nepotism,  as  when  Odo,  Duke  William's 
brother,  was  thrust  into  the  see  of  Bayeux  at  the 
age  of  ten;  but  in  general  the  dukes  of  Normandy 
were  at  pains  to  select  worthy  candidates  for 
bishoprics  and  abbeys,  and  in  1066  the  spiritual 
quality  of  the  Norman  episcopate  was  extraor- 
dinarily high.  Over  the  independent  ecclesi- 
astical jurisdiction  which  had  arisen  in  the  duchy 
under  the  influence  of  the  geat  Cluniac  move- 
ment the  duke  kept  a  steady  control;  when  in 
England  the  Conqueror  is  found  insisting  that  no 
ecclesiastical  law  shall  be  introduced  into  the 
country  without  his  sanction,  he  was  but  assert- 
ing a  principle  which  had  governed  his  conduct 
in  regard  to  those  matters  in  Normandy. 

This  intimate  connection  of  church  and  state 
had,  even  before  the  accession  of  William,  pro- 
duced a  powerful  indirect  result  upon  the  ecclesias- 
tical culture  of  Normandy.  In  Normandy,  as  in 
England,  the  Danish  wars  of  the  previous  century 
had  been  fatal  to  the  monastic  life  of  the  districts 
affected,  and  with  monasticism  perished  such 
elements  of  literary  culture  as  the  Carolingian 
age  could  show.  It  was  nearly  a  century  after 
the  treaty  of  Claire-sur-Epte  before  monasticism 

Introduction  41 

revived  in  Normandy,  and  this  revival  was  due 
almost  entirely  to  the  importation  of  foreign 
monks  into  the  duchy  under  the  patronage  of 
Richard  II.  and  his  successors.  In  connection 
with  the  newly  founded  monasteries  there  arose 
schools,  some  of  which  in  a  surprisingly  short 
time  rivalled  the  older  institutions  of  Chartres 
and  Tours,  and  participated  to  the  full  in  the  cos- 
mopolitan culture  which  underlay  the  develop- 
ment of  medieval  scholasticism.  Of  these  schools, 
the  most  famous  was  undoubtedly  that  of  Bee, 
the  rise  of  which  well  illustrates  the  character 
of  the  revival  of  learning  in  Normandy.1  The 
abbey  of  Bee  itself  was  only  a  recent  institution, 
having  been  founded  in  1034  by  an  unlettered 
knight,  named  Herlwin,  who  was  desirous  of 
living  a  monastic  life  in  association  with  a  few 
chosen  companions.  Nothing  in  any  way  dis- 
tinguished Bee  from  half  a  dozen  other  abbeys 
founded  during  the  same  decade,  and  the  house 
owes  its  unique  distinction  to  the  circumstance 
that  in  1042  an  able  young  Italian  jurist  and 
grammarian,  Lanfranc  of  Pavia,  undertook  the 
direction  of  its  school.  As  a  logical  and  specula- 
tive theologian  Lanfranc  is  said  to  display  small 
original  ability,  but  no  one  was  better  fitted  than 
he  by  $ature  to  superintend  the  early  develop- 
ment of  an  institution  to  which  we  may  conven- 
iently, if  inaccurately,  apply  the  designation  of  a 

«  See  Bohmer's  Kircke  und  Stoat  in  England  und  in  der 
Normandie,  ao. 

42  William  the  Conqueror 

university.     In  the  eleventh  and  twelfth  centuries 
the  reputation  of  the  individual  teacher  was  a 
matter  of  much  greater  importance  than  were 
the  traditions  of  the  school  which  he  taught,  and 
the  school  of  Bee,  under  Lanfranc's  guidance, 
rapidly  became  the  education  centre  of  eastern 
Normandy.    Its  fame  was  vastly  increased  by 
the  fact  that  its  leader  became  involved  in  a 
theological  controversy  in  which  the  whole  of  the 
Catholic  Church  was  interested.    A  famous  theolo- 
gian, Berengar,  a  teacher  in  the  school  of  Tours, 
had  taken  upon  himself  the  task  of  controverting 
the  received  opinion  as  to  the  nature  of  the 
Eucharist,  and  Lanfranc  stepped  forward  as  the 
leading  controversialist  on  the  conservative  side. 
In  the  dialectical  struggle  which  followed,  the 
honours  of  debate  fell  to  Lanfranc;  Berengar's 
opinions  were  condemned  both  by  a  provincial 
synod  under  Archbishop  Maurilius,   of  Rouen, 
and  also  by  a  general  council  held  at  Rome  in 
1056,  and  Lanfranc,  to  the  men  of  his  time,  ap- 
peared to  be  the  foremost  theologian  in  Normandy. 
But  wider  duties  than  the  charge  of  the  school 
of  Bee  rapidly  devolved  upon  him  as  the  friend 
and  intimate  counsellor  of  the  duke,  and  on  his 
translation  to  the  newly  founded  abbey  of  St. 
Stephen's,  at  Caen,  his  place  was  taken  by  a  man 
of  greater  subtlety  of  mind  if  no  less  administra- 
tive capacity.    The  career  of  Anselm  of  Aosta, 
who  succeeded  Lanfranc  in  the  priorate  of  Bee, 
raises  issues  which  lie  beyond  the  life  and  reign 

Introduction  43 

of  William  the  Conqueror,  but  reference  should 
certainly  be  made  to  the  educational  work  which 
Anselm  performed  in  the  days  before  his  name 
was  famous  as  the  champion  of  Hildebrandine 
ideas  in  the  ecclesiastical  polity  of  England.  As 
a  teacher,  it  is  probable  that  Anselm  had  no  rival 
among  the  men  of  his  time,  and  if  his  educational 
efforts  were  solely  directed  at  the  production  of 
learned  and  zealous  monks,  this  does  not  in  the 
least  detract  from  the  greatness  of  the  work  to 
which  the  prime  of  his  life  was  devoted.  It  is 
under  Anselm,  rather  than  under  Lanfranc,  that 
the  influence  of  the  school  of  Bee  reaches  its 
height,  and  the  gentle  character  and  deep  philo- 
sophical insight  of  the  monk  from  Aosta  supply  a 
pleasant  contrast  to  the  practical  and  at  times 
unscrupulous  activity  of  his  predecessor  at  Bee 
and  Canterbury. 


It  must  be  owned  that  we  possess  very  little 
information  as  to  the  causes  which  towards 
the  close  of  the  tenth  century  led  to  a  revival 
of  the  Scandinavian  raids  upon  England.  No 
consistent  tradition  upon  this  matter  was  pre- 
served in  the  north,  and  the  first  descent  of  the 
Vikings  upon  England  in  981  provokes  no  especial 
comment  from  the  native  chroniclers  who  have 
recorded  it.  Now,  as  in  the  previous  century, 
the  Danes  had  the  command  of  the  sea,  and  the 

44  William  the  Conqueror 

settlements  of  the  ninth-century  Vikings  in  the 
east  of  England  offered  to  their  descendants 
an  excellent  base  of  operations  in  the  heart  of 
the  realm.  For  the  first  ten  or  twehre  years  after 
980  the  Danish  and  Norse  raiders  contented 
themselves  with  plunder  and  tribute,  and  the 
definite  conquest  of  England  was  not  achieved 
before  1013,  when  Swegen  Forkbeard,  king  of 
Denmark,  expelled  Ethelred  from  his  kingdom 
and  enjoyed  a  few  months'  uncontestcd  reign  as 
the  uncrowned  king  of  the  land.  The  English 
reaction  under  Edmund  Ironside  is  a  brief 
although  brilliant  episode  in  the  war,  but  the 
superior  numbers  of  the  enemy  told  in  the  end, 
and  from  1016  to  1042  England  remained  politic- 
ally united  to  the  Scandinavian  world. 

The  rule  of  Cnut,  Swegen's  son,  met  with  no 
opposition  on  the  part  of  his  English  subjects. 
But  although  Cnut  ruled  England  with  such  strict- 
ness and  justice  that  on  the  eve  of  the  Norman 
Conquest  his  reign  was  still  regarded  as  a  model 
of  good  government,  his  rule  was  nevertheless 
that  of  a  Scandinavian  king.1  All  the  surviving 
sons  of  Ethelred  met  with  death  or  banishment 
at  his  hands,  and  his  marriage  with  Ethelred's 
widow  was  much  more  probably  the  result  of 
passion  than  of  policy.  In  the  personnel  of  the 

1  The  fullest  account  of  Cn tit's  reign  is  given  by  Freeman . 
Norman  Conquest  i.,  chapter  vi.  Freeman  was  disposed 
to  underrate  the  value  of  Scandinavian  evidence,  and  hence 
considered  Cnut's  reign  almost  exclusively  from  the  English 

Introduction  45 

local  government  of  England  his  reign  witnessed 
a  complete  change.  His  earldoms  were  given 
either  to  the  companions  of  his  early  warfare,  such 
as  Eric  of  Northumbria l  and  his  son  Hakon  of 
Worcestershire,  or  to  new  men,  such  as  Godwine 
of  Wessex,  whom  he  had  raised  from  insignificance 
and  could  depose  at  pleasure.  So  far  as  we  know 
only  one  native  family  of  ancient  rank  received 
favour  from  the  foreign  king.  The  earldom  of 
Mercia,  which  had  been  left  vacant  by  the  summary 
execution  of  Eadric  Streona  early  in  1017,  was 
given  to  Leofwine,  a  representative  of  a  noble 
midland  family  and  the  father  of  the  more  famous 
Leofric,  the  wisest  of  the  counsellors  of  Edward 
the  Confessor.  Such  Englishmen  as  received 
secular  promotion  at  Cnut's  hand  received  it 
for  the  most  part  in  Scandinavia,  where  the 
honour  which  they  enjoyed  had  apparently  be- 
come a  cause  of  discontent  to  the  Danes  before 
Cnut's  death.  In  general  policy  also  Cnut's 
attention  was  directed  towards  the  north  rather 
than  towards  the  Romance  lands,  with  which 
Ethelred's  marriage  had  brought  England  into 
contact.  It  is  very  probable  that  Cnut  dreamed 
of  an  empire  which  should  include  England  and 
the  whole  of  Scandinavia,  and  it  is  certain  that  in 
1028  he  conquered  Norway  and  claimed  the  sub- 
mission of  the  king  of  Sweden.  In  all  this  Cnut 
was  behaving  as  the  heir  of  Harold  Blue-tooth 

i  See  the  lives  of  Earls  Eric  and  Eglaf  in  the  notes  to  the 
Crawford  Charters,  No.  xii, 

46  William  the  Conqueror 

and  Swegen  Forkbeard,  rather  than  as  the  suc- 
cessor' of  Edgar  and  Ethelred.  His  rule  brought 
peace  to  England  and  Englishmen  needed  no 
more  to  induce  them  to  submit  to  it. 

In  the  machinery  of  the  English  government, 
it  does  not  appear  that  Cnut's  reign  marks  any 
changes  of  importance.  He  governed  England, 
as  he  governed  Norway,  through  viceroys;  and 
if  his  earls  bear  more  the  character  of  royal 
officials  than  did  Ethelred's  ealdormen,  this  was 
due  rather  to  Cnut's  superior  power  than  to  any 
fundamental  change  in  the  character  of  their 
positions.  Under  Edward  the  Confessor  the  pro- 
vincial governments  became  again  as  autonomous 
as  ever.  It  was  a  matter  of  great  importance 
that  Cnut  ordered  the  compilation  of  a  general  code 
of  the  law  current  at  this  time,  a  work  which  may 
be  held  to  earn  for  him  the  title  of  the  greatest 
legislator  of  the  eleventh  century.1  When  the 
battle  of  Hastings  was  fought,  Cnut's  code  was 
still  the  newest  and  most  explicit  statement  of 
Old  English  custom,  and  the  additions  which  the 
Conqueror  made  to  it  were  few  and  for  the  most 
part  of  minor  importance. 

Cnut's  death  was  followed  by  the  immediate 
disruption  of  his  empire./  Norway  passed  to 
Swegen,  his  eldest  son;  and  on  his  death  after  a 
brief  and  troubled  reign  was  rapidly  conquered 
by  Magnus,  the  son  of  Cnut's  Norwegian  rival 
Olaf  the  Holy.  Denmark  was  taken  by  Hartha- 

*  P.  and  M.,  i.,  ao. 

Introduction  47 

cnut,  a  son  of  Cnut  and  Emma  of  Normandy,  and 
Harold,  the  third  surviving  brother,  secured  Eng- 
land and  held  it  for  five  years.    His  short  reign 
was  marked  by  a  dramatic  event  which  is  of 
importance  as  furnishing  one  of  the  ostensible 
motives  assigned  by  the  Conqueror's  apologists 
for  his  invasion  of  England.    In  1036  the  Etheling 
Alfred,  son  of  Ethelred  and  Emma,  left  his  secure 
exile  in  Normandy  and  came  to  England.    His 
object,  we  are  told,  was  to  visit  his  mother,  the 
lady  Emma,  and  to  take  council  with  her  how 
he  might  best  endeavour  to  gain  the  kingdom 
for  himself.    He  therefore  landed  with  but  few 
companions,  and  before  he  had  seen  his  mother 
he  was  met  by  Godwine,  the  Earl  of  Wessex,  who 
received   him   peaceably   and   entertained   him 
with  lavish  hospitality  at  Guildford.    Thereupon 
Godwine's  name  vanishes  from  the  story,  but  the 
same  night  the   etheling    and    his  party  were 
surrounded  by  King  Harold's  men  and  taken 
prisoners;  Alfred  was  so  horribly  blinded  that 
he  soon  died  from  his  injuries,  and  his  companions 
were  mutilated,  imprisoned,  or  sold  as  slaves 
according  to  the  king's  fancy.    The  whole  affair 
was  clearly  the  result  of  foul  treachery  and  it  is 
impossible  to  doubt  that  the  surprise  at  Guildford 
was  Godwine's  work.1    The  traitorous  earl,  indeed, 

» The  most  recent  discussion  in  detail  of  this  episode  is 
that  of  Plummer,  Two  Saxon  Chronicles,  ii.  Freeman's 
attempt  to  clear  Godwine  of  complicity  was  marked  by  a 
very  arbitrary  treatment  of  the  contemporary  authorities. 

48  William  the  Conqueror 

skilfully  evaded  the  penalty  of  his  crime,  but 
when  William  of  Normandy  was  about  to  cross  the 
sea,  he  was  careful  to  appear  as  the  avenger  of 
the  wrongs  which  his  cousin  had  suffered  thirty 
years  before. 

At  some  time  between  the  death  of  Cnut  in 
1035  and  the  death  of  Harold  I.  in  1040,  the  latter's 
brother  Harthacnut,  as  king  of  Denmark,  had 
made  a  treaty  with  Magnus  of  Norway  which 
served  as  the  pretext  for  twenty  years  of  war 
between  the  two  states,  and  as  the  foundation  of 
the  Norwegian  claims  on  England  which  were 
asserted  by  Harold  Hardrada  in  the  campaign 
which  ended  at  Stamfordbridge.  The  secession 
of  Norway  under  Magnus  from  the  Danish  con- 
nection was  not  likely  to  pass  uncontested,  and 
the  host  of  both  nations  prepared  to  try  the  matter 
in  a  great  battle  at  the  Elf  in  the  winter  following 
Magnus's  succession.  On  both  sides,  however, 
there  was  a  strong  party  in  favour  of  peace,  and 
a  compromise  was  arranged  by  which  the  kings 
swore  brotherhood  and  promised  that  in  the 
.  event  of  either  dying  without  a  son  to  succeed 
him  his  dominions  should  pass  to  the  survivor 
or  his  heir.1  The  succession  of  Harthacnut  to 
England  in  1040  took  place  without  protest  from. 
Magnus,  but  on  the  former's  childless  death  in 
1042  the  treaty  should  have  come  into  operation, 
and  Magnus  was  careful  to  claim  the  crown  of 

» Heimskringla,  trans.    Morris  and  Magnusson,   vol.    iii., 
p.  10. 

Introduction  49 

England  from  Edward  the  Confessor.  Edward 
denied  the  Norwegian  king's  right,  and  he  was 
so  strongly  supported  by  the  leading  men  of  the 
land  that  Magnus  deemed  it  best  to  let  him  reign 
in  peace,  but  the  claim  was  undoubtedly  present 
to  the  mind  of  Magnus's  heir,  Harold  Hardrada, 
when  he  started  on  his  memorable  expedition 
in  I066,1  and  it  accounts  for  the  alarm  which 
noblemen  of  Scandinavian  tendencies  were  able 
to  arouse  in  England  during  the  earliest  years  of 
Edward's  rule. 

The  man  who  had  played  the  leading  part  in  the 
events  which  led  to  the  acceptance  of  Edward 
as  king  of  England,  was  undoubtedly  Earl  God- 
wine;  and  the  chief  interest  of  Edward's  reign 
lies  in  the  varying  fortunes  of  the  family  of  which 
Godwine  was  the  founder.  With  notable  skill 
the  earl  used  the  influence  which  he  possessed 
as  King  Edward's  protector  to  further  the  ter- 
ritorial interests  of  his  family,  and  within  three 
years  of  Edward's  accession  Godwine  and  his 
sons  were  in  possession  of  a  belt  of  earldoms 
which  extended  without  a  break  along  the  south 
coast  of  England,  from  the  Wash  to  the  Bristol 
Channel.  By  1050  the  whole  of  England  was 
divided  between  Godwine  and  his  two  eldest  sons, 
Swegen  and  Harold,  Leofric  of  Mercia,  Siward  of 
Northumbria,  and  Ralf  of  Mantes,  a  nephew  of 
King  Edward,  who  had  received  from  his  uncle 
the  earldom  of  Hereford,  and  was  making  of  that 

*  Op.  dt.t  p.  181, 


So  William  the  Conqueror 

distant  shire  an  outpost  of  Norman  influence 
already  before  the  middle  of  the  century. 

In  1051  the  power  of  the  house  of  Godwine 
was  suddenly  overthrown  for  a  time  by  an  un- 
expected revolution.  The  immediate  cause  of  the 
catastrophe  was  very  trivial,  but  there  can  be 
little  doubt  that  it  was  really  due  to  the  jealousy 
which  the  king  felt  at  the  inordinate  power 
possessed  by  the  Earl  of  Wessex.  Godwine  in 
1042  had  played  the  part  of  a  king-maker;  but, 
like  other  king-makers,  he  found  that  the  sovereign 
whom  he  had  created  began  to  resent  his  in- 
fluence. In  the  summer  of  1051  Count  Eustace 
of  Boulogne,  who  had  married  King  Edward's 
sister,  paid  a  visit  to  his  brother-in-law,  and  on  his 
return  prepared  to  cross  the  Channel  from  Dover 
to  the  capital  of  his  own  country.  Arrived  at 
Dover,  Eustace  demanded  from  the  citizens  enter- 
tainment for  himself  and  his  suite ;  a  demand  which 
was  seemingly  quite  in  accordance  with  the 
custom  by  which  the  inhabitants  of  a  town  in  the 
eleventh  century  were  liable  to  find  quarters  for 
the  retinue  of  a  king,  or  for  persons  whom  the 
king  might  send  down  to  them.1  On  the  present 
occasion,  however,  the  men  of  Dover  showed 
signs  of  disallowing  the  custom,  and  a  fight 
ensued  in  the  streets  of  the  town,  in  which  each 
side  lost  some  twenty  men.  Eustace  immediately 
returned  to  the  king's  court,  and  demanded  the 

*  This  is  the  duty  of  "hospitium,"  exemption  from  which 
was  frequently  granted  in  Anglo-Norman  charters. 

Introduction  51 

punishment  of  the  citizens,  which  was  granted 
to  him,  and  its  execution  entrusted  to  Godwine, 
within  whose  earldom  Dover  lay.  The  earl  flatly 
refused  to  carry  out  the  king's  orders,  whether 
through  a  magnanimous  objection  to  the  justice 
of  the  sentence  or  through  fear  of  incurring 
local  unpopularity  by  enforcing  it.  Thereupon, 
Edward  for  once  asserted  his  royal  indepen- 
dence, and  events  proved  that  for  the  moment 
at  least,  he  had  reserves  of  strength  upon  which 
Godwine  and  his  party  cannot  have  counted. 
The  king  summoned  a  meeting  of  the  Witanage- 
mot  to  be  held  at  Gloucester,  at  which,  among 
other  charges,  Godwine  was  to  be  accused  of 
complicity  in  the  death  of  Alfred  the  Etheling, 
fifteen  years  before.  Godwine  refused  to  stand 
his  trial,  and  proceeded  to  collect  troops  from  all 
the  family  earldoms,  a  move  which  was  discovered 
by  a  similar  levy  made  on  the  king's  behalf  by 
the  earls  of  Hereford,  Mercia,  and  Northumbria. 
Civil  war  was  averted  by  the  moderation  of  the 
chiefs  of  the  king's  party,  who  arranged  a  post- 
ponement of  the  charges  against  Godwine  until 
the  next  Michaelmas,  when  a  gemot  was  to  be 
held  in  London  for  their  discussion.  Godwine 
agreed  to  this;  and,  that  he  might  not  be  taken 
unawares,  he  moved  from  the  west  country  to 
Southwark,  where  he  took  up  his  abode  supported 
by  a  great  host  drawn  from  his  earldom.  But 
the  delay  was  fatal  to  his  cause:  his  troops  lost 
heart  and  deserted,  and  before  long  the  king 

52  William  the  Conqueror 

was  able  to  decree  summary  banishment  for  the 
earl  and  all  the  family.  The  earl  fled  to  Flanders, 
Harold  to  the  Ostmen  of  Dublin,1  and  for  a 
year  Edward  remained  the  undisputed  master  of 
his  own  realm. 

The  royalist  party  which  had  achieved  this 
memorable  success  was  in  the  main  recruited 
from  two  sources.  The  hostility  of  Mercia  and 
Northumbria  to  the  domination  of  a  West  Saxon 
earl  brought  over  to  the  king's  side  a  vast  number 
of  supporters  who  were  doubtless  no  more  loyal 
in  reality  to  the  king  than  were  Godwine  and  his 
men,  but  who  welcomed  so  fair  an  opportunity  of 
striking  a  blow  at  the  rule  of  the  southern  family. 
On  the  other  hand,  it  is  clear  that  racial  feeling 
entered  into  the  quarrel,  and  that  the  Norman 
settlers  whom  Edward  had  invited  to  take  land 
and  lordship  in  England  were  the  avowed  enemies 
of  Godwine  and  his  party.  It  is  only  natural 
to  infer  that  Edward,  in  addition  to  the  predilec- 
tion which  he  must  have  felt  for  men  of  the  race 
among  which  he  had  found  shelter  in  the  days 
of  his  exile,  should  wish  to  find  in  them  some 
counterpoise  to  the  power  of  the  Earl  of  Wessex 
and  his  associates.  It  is  certain  that  there  was 
a  powerful  Norman  element  at  court,  and  in  the 
country,  which  contributed  very  materially  to 
the  king's  success  in  1031.  The  archbishopric 
of  Canterbury  and  the  sees  of  London  and  Dor- 

1  Swegen,  Godwine's  eldest  son,  went  on  pilgrimage  to 
Jerusalem,  and  died  on  his  way  back. 

Introduction  53 

Chester  were  held  by  Norman  priests,  and  in 
Herefordshire,  tinder  the  jurisdiction  of  Earl  Ralf , 
a  flourishing  Norman  colony  had  been  planted 
on  the  Welsh  border.  Under  this  Norman  in- 
fluence the  art  of  castle-building  was  introduced 
into  England,  to  the  infinite  disgust  of  the  country 
folk  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  new  fortresses,  and 
the  Earl  of  Hereford  tried  very  unsuccessfully  to 
induce  the  local  militia,  of  which  he  was  the  official 
leader,  to  serve  on  horseback  in  their  campaigns 
against  the  Welsh.  In  another  direction,  the  king's 
"chancery,"  which  was  gradually  becoming  an 
organised  medium  for  the  discharge  of  the  king's 
legal  business,  was  largely  staffed  by  Norman 
clerks,  and  the  service  of  the  royal  chapel  was 
in  part,  at  least,  conducted  by  priests  from  across 
the  Channel.  In  the  sphere  of  commerce  the 
connection  between  England  and  Normandy, 
which  can  be  traced  already  in  the  time  of  King 
Ethelred,  was  steadily  becoming  closer  and  more 
permanent;  before  1066  at  least  five  of  the  ports 
of  Sussex  were  in  Norman  hands,  and  Norman 
merchants  possessed  a  haven  of  their  own  in  the 
estuary  of  the  Thames.  We  can  never  hope  to 
form  an  exact  estimate  of  the  extent  of  Norman 
influence  in!  the  last  days  of  the  Anglo-Saxon 
state,  but  there  can  be  no  doubt  either  of  its  gen- 
eral significance  or  of  its  importance  in  lessening 
the  shock  occasioned  by  the  rapid  Normanisstion 
of  England  after  1066. 
For  the  present,  however,  the  Normans  in 

54  William  the  Conqueror 

England  were  not  strong  enough  permanently 
to  assume  the  direction  of  the  commonwealth, 
and  in  1052  Godwine  and  his  sons  made  a  tri- 
umphant return.  The  old  earl  had  no  difficulty 
in  recruiting  a  powerful  force  in  Flanders,  and 
Harold  in  Danish  Ireland  found  numbers  of 
adventurers  only  too  eager  to  follow  the  fortunes 
of  a  leader  who  could  promise  excitement  and 
booty.  In  the  middle  of  1052,  Harold,  acting 
no  doubt  in  concert  with  his  father,  set  sail  from 
Ireland  with  nine  ships,  landed  on  the  coast  of 
Somerset  at  Porlock,  and  there  proceeded  to  slay 
and  harry  in  true  Viking  fashion,  passing  on 
round  the  Land's  End  and  so  along  the  Channel. 
In  the  meantime  Godwine  with  his  Flemish 
pirates  had  reached  the  Isle  of  Wight  and  plun- 
dered it  until  the  inhabitants  were  driven  to  pay 
whatever  ransom  the  earl  might  demand.  Off 
the  Isle  of  Wight  Harold  joined  forces  with  his 
father,  and  the  earls  sailed  on  past  Pevensey  and 
Hastings  and  along  the  Kentish  shore,  drawing 
many  volunteers  from  the  friendly  ports  at 
which  they  called,  while  their  crews  indulged 
in  sporadic  devastation  elsewhere.  Without  seri- 
ous opposition  the  exiles  entered  the  Thames,  and 
sailed  up  the  river  as  far  as  London  Bridge;  God- 
wine  disembarked  at  Southwark  and  the  feeling 
of  the  city  declared  itself  unmistakably  on  his 
side.  The  archbishop  of  Canterbury  and  the 
bishop  of  Dorchester  made  a  hurried  escape  from 
the  town  and  rode  for  their  lives  to  the  Essex 

Introduction  55 

coast,  where  they  crossed  to  Normandy.  The 
king,  powerless  to  protect  his  friends  in  the 
moment  of  the  reaction,  had  no  option  but  to 
restore  Godwine  and  his  family  to  all  their  honours 
and  offices,  and  he  was  forced  to  declare  outlaw 
"all  Frenchmen  who  had  raised  disorder  and 
proclaimed  bad  law  and  had  plotted  evil  against 
the  land."  He  was,  however,  even  allowed  to  re- 
tain about  his  person  such  Normans  as  Godwine's 
party  chose  to  consider  loyal  to  the  king  and  his 
people;  and  indeed  it  does  not  appear  that  the 
triumph  of  the  nationalists  in  1032  was  followed 
by  any  considerable  exodus  of  foreign  settlers 
from  the  country. 

Godwine  had  thus  secured  an  unequivocal 
victory,  but  he  and  his  friends  proceeded  to  make 
a  false  move,  the  result  of  which  was  to  throw 
the  whole  influence  of  the  church  on  to  the  side 
of  the  Norman  invader  in  1066.  The  flight  of 
the  archbishop  of  Canterbury  had  left  the  metro- 
politan see  at  the  mercy  of  Godwine's  party, 
and  it  was  immediately  given  to  Stigand,  bishop 
of  Winchester,  the  leading  ecclesiastical  partisan 
of  the  earl  of  Wessex.  The  act  was  a  gross  vio- 
lation of  law  and  decency,  for  the  exiled  arch- 
bishop had  been  deposed  by  no  derical  tribunal, 
and  Stigand  did  not  improve  his  position  by 
continuing  to  hold  the  see  of  Winchester  in  plural- 
ity with  that  of  Canterbury.  The  Curia  refused 
to  recognise  him  as  metropolitan,  and  in  1058 
Stigand  aggravated  his  guilt  by  accepting  the 

56  William  the  Conqueror 

pallium,  the  badge  of  the  archiepiscopal  rank, 
from  an  antipope,  thereby  in  effect  giving  defiance 
to  that  section  of  the  church  which  represented 
its  highest  ideals,  and  was  destined  to  exercise 
most  influence  in  the  coming  years.  Before  long 
Stigand's  political  associates  perceived  the  mis- 
take that  had  been  made,  and  for  the  next  fifteen 
years  the  province  of  Canterbury  was,  in  matters 
of  spiritual  jurisdiction,  left  without  a  head. 
Between  1058  and  1066  Stigand  never  consecra- 
ted a  bishop,  and  at  ecclesiastical  ceremonies  of 
especial  importance  his  place  was  taken  by 
the  primate  of  York.  To  all  strict  churchmen 
the  nominal  head  of  the  church  in  England  was 
a  schismatic,  disowned  by  his  own  suffragans  and 
banned  by  the  Holy  See ;  and  it  would  be  difficult 
to  overestimate  the  importance  of  this  fact  in 
preparing  the  public  opinion  of  Europe  to  support 
the  enterprise  of  William  of  Normandy  in  1066, 

God  vine  survived  his  restoration  for  little  more 
than  a  year,  and  on  his  death  in  1053  his  earldom 
of  Wessex  passed  to  Harold  as  his  eldest  surviving 
son.  For  thirteen  years  it  is  probable  that 
Harold  was  the  real  head  of  the  English  govern- 
ment. Until  the  very  close  of  this  period  the 
internal  history  of  England  is  almost  barren  of 
recorded  events,  and  its  significance  lies  in  the 
steady  aggrandisement .  of  the  family  of  which 
Harold  was  now  the  head.  By  the  beginning 
of  1065  the  wealthiest  and  most  warlike  parts  of 
the  country  were  divided  into  earldoms  held  by 

Introduction  57 

members  of  the  house  of  Godwine.  Wessex, 
Harold  kept  tinder  his  own  rule,  with  the  addition 
of  the  shires  of  Gloucester  and  Hereford ;  Leof wine, 
his  youngest  brother,  governed  a  province  com- 
prising Essex,  Hertford,  Middlesex,  Kent,  Surrey, 
and  Sussex;  Gyrth,  a  third  brother,  held  East 
Anglia;  to  which  was  added  the  midland  shire 
of  Oxford.1  Even  Northumbria  had  been  secured 
by  an  earl  of  the  family,  for  Tostig,  the  only  one  of 
Godwine's  sons  for  whom  King  Edward  seems 
to  have  felt  personal  affection,  had  received  the 
government  of  that  lawless  land  upon  the  death 
of  its  native  earl,  Siward,  in  1055.  k688  obvious, 
but  equally  suggestive  of  the  general  trend  of 
Harold's  policy,  is  the  enormous  amount  of  land 
of  which  he  held  direct  possession  at  the  Con- 
fessor's death.  There  was  scarcely  a  shire  in 
which  a  certain  number  of  estates  were  not  held 
by  the  earl  of  Wessex  in  1066;  and  Domesday 
Book,  in  recording  the  fact  of  his  ownership,  will 
often  also  record  that  it  had  been  acquired  by 
force  or  injustice.  Harold,  like  his  father,  was 
quite  unscrupulous  in  the  advancement  of  his 
interests,  and  his  greed  for  land  and  revenue  is 
one  of  the  few  traits  in  his  character  of  which 
we  can  be  certain.  Of  his  brothers,  Gyrth  and 
Leofwine  are  very  imperfectly  known  to  us,  al- 
though in  the  Norman  traditions  of  the  twelfth 
century  the  former  is  represented  as  the  real 

1  See  the  map  of  the  earldoms  in  1066  given  by  Freeman, 
Norman  Conquest,  ii. 

58  William  the  Conqueror 

hero  of  the  campaign  of  Hastings  on  the  English 
side.  But  Tostig,  the  earl  of  Northumbria,  was 
a  man  of  stronger  character,  and  the  circumstances 
of  his  fall  from  power  demand  a  brief  account  in 
this  place. 

Tostig's  appointment  in  1055  had  been  an  ex- 
periment and  a  rash  one.  From  the  overthrow 
of  the  Northumbrian  kingdom  by  Edred,  down 
to  the  last  year  of  Harthacnut,  a  dynasty  of 
native  earls  had  presided  over  the  north.  The 
succession  in  the  southern  half  of  the  earldom, 
between  Tees  and  Humber,  had  been  broken 
in  the  reign  of  Cnut,  but  the  ancient  family  con- 
tinued to  rule  in  Bernicia  until  in  1041  Ealdwulf 
II.,  the  last  earl  of  the  house,  was  murdered  by 
Siward  the  Danish  ruler  of  Yorkshire.  Siward 
thereupon  reunited  the  two  halves  of  the  North- 
umbrian earldom,  gaining  in  local  eyes  some  title 
to  the  government  by  his  marriage  with  Aelflaed, 
the  niece  of  his  victim  Eadwulf ;  and  for  fourteen 
years  his  ruthless  severity  kept  his  province  in 
comparative  quiet.  In  Tostig,  Siward's  successor, 
the  Northumbrians  for  the  first  time  were  ex- 
pected to  obey  a  south-country  stranger,  and 
hence  there  was  no  qualification  to  the  hatred 
which  Tostig  caused  by  his  imitation  of  his  prede- 
cessor's methods  of  government.  As  a  personal 
favourite  of  the  king,  Tostig  was  absent  from  his 
province  for  long  spaces  of  time,  and  it  is  not 
easy  to  understand  why  the  Northumbrians  sub- 
mitted for  ten  years  to  the  spasmodic  tyranny 

Introduction  59 

of  a  stranger.  But  at  last,  in  1064,  Tostig  en- 
trapped and  murdered  two  leading  thegns  of  the 
north,  named  Gamel  the  son  of  Orm,  and  Ulf; 
and  at  Christmas  time  in  the  same  year  Gos- 
patric,  the  last  male  descendant  of  the  ancient 
earls  of  Bernicia,  was  slain  at  the  king's  court 
in  Tostig's  interest.1  For  nine  months  there  was. 
ominous  peace  in  Northumbria,  and  then,  very 
unexpectedly,  in  October,  1065,  a  great  revolt 
burst  out;.  Two  hundred  thegns  marched  to 
York,  held  a  meeting  in  which  we  may  possibly 
recognise  a  Northumbrian  gemot,  deposed  Tostig, 
and  offered  the  earldom  to  Morcar,  brother  of 
Edwin  the  reigning  earl  of  Mercia,  and  grandson 
of  Leofric.  These  events  were  followed  by  a 
general  massacre  of  Tostig's  adherents  in  York, 
and  then  the  rebel  army,  with  Morcar,  the  new  earl, 
at  its  head,  rolled  southwards  to  force  a  confirma- 
tion of  its  revolutionary  acts  from  the  king. 

At  the  moment  of  the  outbreak  Tostig  was 
absent  in  Hampshire,  hunting  with  King  Edward. 
Events  had  now  passed  quite  beyond  his  control; 
Morcar  had  been  joined  by  his  brother  Earl  Edwin 
with  the  fyrd  of  Mercia,  and  a  contingent  of 
Welshmen,  and  the  combined  force  had  reached 
Northampton,  their  line  of  advance  being  marked 
with  wholesale  ravages  which  can  be  traced  very 
clearly  in  the  pages  of  the  Northamptonshire 

*  In  the  next  generation  there  was  a 'tradition  that  Gos- 
patric  had  been  murdered  by  Queen  Edith  on  her  brother's 
behalf,  Florence  of  Worcester,  1065. 

60  William  the  Conqueror 

Domesday.1  At  Northampton  the  rebels  were  met 
by  Harold  bearing  a  message  from  the  king  to 
the  effect  that,  if  they  were  to  disperse,  their 
charges  against  Tostig  should  be  heard  and  decided 
in  lawful  manner.  They  returned  a  blank  refusal 
to  accept  Tostig  again  as  their  earl,  swept  on  down 
the  Cherwell  Valley,  and  next  appear  in  occupation 
of  Oxford.  In  the  meantime  Edward  had  called 
a  council  at  Bretford  near  Salisbury,  at  which 
there  was  a  long  and  angry  debate,  and  Harold  was 
roundly  accused  of  stirring  up  the  present  rising 
for  his  own  advantage.  The  earl  cleared  himself 
of  the  charge  with  an  oath,  and  the  discussion 
turned  to  the  measures  to  be  adopted  to  restore 
order.  Edward  himself  was  for  putting  down 
the  revolt  by  force;  but  his  counsellors  urged  the 
difficulty  of  conducting  a  campaign  in  winter,  and 
the  king  was  seized  with  a  sudden  illness  which 
left  the  immediate  control  of  affairs  in  the  hands 
of  Harold.  Accordingly  Harold  paid  a  second 
visit  to  the  rebels'  camp,  this  time  at  Oxford,  and 
formally  granted  their  demands.  Tostig  was  out- 
lawed, Morcar  was  recognised  as  earl  of  Northum- 
bria,  and  Waltheof,  the  son  of  Siward,  who  might 
consider  himself  aggrieved  by  this  alienation  of 
his  father's  earldom,  was  portioned  off  with  the 
midland  shires  of  Northampton,  Huntington,  Bed- 
ford, and  Cambridge.  Tostig  himself,  to  the 
king's  great  regret,  took  ship  for  Flanders,  and 
spent  the  winter  at  St.  Omen 

»  Victoria  History  of  Northamptonshire,  i.,  262-3. 

Introduction  61 

The  above  course  of  events  is  clear,  and  at- 
tested  by   good   contemporary   authority,    but 
there  is   evidently  much   beneath  the   surface 
which  is  not  explained  to  us.    The  revolt  must 
clearly  have  been  planned  and  organised  some 
time  before  its  actual  outbreak,  but  who  was 
really  responsible  for  it?    It  would  be  natural 
enough  to  lay  the  blame  on  Edwin  and  Morcar, 
and  on  any  showing  they  can  hardly  be  acquitted, 
but  it  is  at  least  doubtful  whether  the  causes  of 
the  rising  do  not  lie  deeper.    It  is  hard  to  avoid 
suspicion  that  the  men  who  accused  Harold  in  the 
council  at  Bretford  may  have  had  knowledge 
of  the  facts  behind  their  accusation.    It  is  quite 
certain  that  Harold  was  forming  plans  for  his 
own  succession  to  the  throne  upon  Edward's 
death — would  those  plans  be  furthered  by  the 
substitution  of  Morcar  for  Tostig  as  earl  of  North- 
umbria?    From  this  point  we  are  in  the  region 
of  conjecture,  but  our  authorities  give  us  certain 
hints  which  are  significant.    It  was  certain  that 
the  last  wishes  of  the  king  would  be  a  most  power- 
ful factor  in  determining  the  choice  of  his  successor ; 
Tostig  was  Edward's  favourite,  Harold  might  well 
feel  anxious  about  the  manner  in  which  the  old 
king  would  use  his  influence  when  the  end  came. 
Then,  too,  there  is  evidence  that  Harold  about 
this  time  was  trying  to  conciliate  the  great 
Mercian  family;  and  the  suspicion  is  raised  that 
Edwin's   acquiescence   in  Harold's   schemes   in 
1066  was  not  unconnected  with  Morcar's  eleva- 

62  William  the  Conqueror 

tion  in  1065.  Lastly,  Harold's  action  in  granting 
the  demands  of  the  rebels,  the  moment  that 
Edward's  illness  had  given  him  a  free  hand,  is  itself 
suggestive  of  some  collusion  with  the  authors  of 
the  rising.  If  Harold's  policy  had  been  strictly 
honourable  his  conduct  should  hardly  have 
given  rise  to  doubts  like  these;  and  if  on  the 
evidence  before  us  we  may  hesitate  to  condemn 
him  outright,  we  may  at  least  acknowledge  that 
his  contemporary  accusers  deserved  a  respectful 

More  important  and  less  conjectural  than  the 
nature  of  Harold's  conduct  is  the  picture  given 
by  these  events  of  the  conditions  of  England  in 
1065.  All  the  symptoms  of  political  disorganisa- 
tion on  which  we  have  already  commented — the 
independence  of  the  great  earls,  the  importance 
of  the  executive,  the  fatuity  of  the  royal  coun- 
sellors, the  personal  weakness  of  the  king — are 
illustrated  by  the  narrative  of  Tostig's  expulsion. 
For  just  another  year  the  Old  English  state  was  to 
stand  trembling  to  its  fall,  and  then  the  final 
test  of  political  stability  would  be  applied  and  a 
conquering  race  would  slowly  rebuild  the  social 
fabric  which  it  had  overthrown. 

Penny  of  Edward  the  Confessor 



A  MONG  the  famous  stories  which  enliven  the 
•**•  history  of  the  early  dukes  of  Normandy 
there  stands  out  prominently  the  tale  of  the 
romantic  circumstances  which  led  to  the  birth 
of  Duke  William  II. ,  the  greatest  of  his  line.  The 
substantial  truth  of  the  legend  has  never  been 
called  in  question,  and  we  may  still  read  in  safety 
how  Robert,  the  young  count  of  the  Hiesmois, 
the  son  of  Duke  Richard  I.  and  the  fourth  in 
descent  from  Rollo,  was  riding  towards  his  capital 
of  Falaise  when  he  saw  Arlette,  the  daughter  of 
a  tanner  in  the  town,  washing  linen  in  a  stream, 
according  to  one  account — dancing,  according  to 
another;  how  he  fell  in. love  at  first  sight,  and 
carried  her  off  straightway  to  his  castle;  and 
how  the  connection  thus  begun  lasted  unbroken 
until  Robert's  death  seven  or  eight  years  later. 
The  whole  course  of  William's  early  history 
was  determined  by  the  fact  of  his  illegitimacy, 
and  the  main  points  of  the  story  as  we  have  it 
must  already  halve  been  known  to  the  citizens  of 
Alengon  when  they  cried  out  "Hides  for  the 
tanner"  as  the  duke  came  up  to  their  defences  in 
the  famous  siege  of  1049-  In  fact  the  tale  itself 


64  William  the  Conqueror 

is  thoroughly  in  keeping  with  the  sexual  irregu- 
larity which  was  common  to  the  whole  house 
of  Rollo,  with  the  single  exception  of  the  great 
Conqueror  himself,  and  we  may  admit  that  there 
is  a  certain  dramatic  fitness  in  this  unconventional 
origin  of  the  man  who  more  than  any  other  of 
his  time  could  make  very  unpromising  conditions 
the  prelude  to  brilliant  results.1  The  exact  date 
of  William's  birth  is  not  certain ;  it  is  very  probable 
that  it  fell  between  October  and  December,  1027, 
but  in  any  case  it  cannot  be  placed  later  than 
1028,  a  fact  which  deserves  notice,  for  even  at  the 
latter  date  Robert  himself  cannot  possibly  have 
been  older  than  eighteen  and  may  very  well 
have  been  at  least  a  year  younger. 

The  reign  of  Robert  L,  by  some  caprice  of 
historical  nomenclature  surnamed  the  Devil, 
was  a  brilliant  period  of  Norman  history.  Suc- 
ceeding to  the  ducal  throne  on  the  sudden,  perhaps 
suspiciously  sudden,  death  of  his  brother  Richard 
III.,  in  1028,  Robert,  in  the  six  years  of  his  rule, 
won  .for  the  duchy  an  unprecedented  influence  in 
the  affairs  of  the  French  kingdom.  The  first 
duty  of  a  Norman  duke,  that  of  keeping  his 
greater  vassals  in  order,  Robert  seems  to  have 

1  In  addition  to  the  future  Conqueror  one  other  child  was 
born  to  Robert  and  Arlette — a  daughter  named  Adeliz,  who 
married  Count  Enguerrand  of  Ponthieu;  and  after  Robert's 
death  Arlette  herself  became  the  lawful  wife  of  a  Norman 
knight  named  Herlwin  of  Conteville,  whose  two  sons,  Odo, 
bishop  of  Bayeux,  and  Robert,  count  of  Mortain,  play  a  con- 
siderable part  in  the  succeeding  history. 

and  the  border  Counties 

Duke  William's  Minority          65 

performed  very  effectively;  we  may  perhaps  meas- 
ure the  strength  of  his  hand  by  the  outburst  of 
anarchy  which  followed  the  news  of  his  death. 
And  his  intervention  in  the  general  feudal  politics 
of  Prance,  interesting  enough  in  itself,  gains  in 
importance  when  viewed  with  reference  to  the 
history  of  his  greater  son.  William  the  Conqueror 
inherited  the  rudiments  of  a  policy  from  his 
father;  throughout  much  of  his  reign  he  was 
following  lines  of  action  which  had  been  suggested 
between  1028  and  1035. 

This  was  so  with  reference  to  the  greatest 
of  all  his  achievements,  the  conquest  of  England. 
There  seems  no  reason  to  doubt  that  Robert 
had  gone  through  the  form  of  marriage  with 
Estrith,  the  sister  of  Cnut,  and  there  is  a  strong 
probability  that  he  planned  an  invasion  of  Eng- 
land on  behalf  of  the  banished  sons  of  Ethdred. 
The  marriage  of  Robert's  aunt,  Emma,  first  to 
Ethelred  and  then  to  Cnut,1  began,  as  we  have 
seen,  that  unbroken  connection  between  England 
and  Normandy  which  culminated  in  the  Norman 
Conquest.  Norman  enterprise  was  already  in 
Robert's  reign  extending  beyond  the  borders  of 
the  French  kingdom  to  Spain  and  Italy;  that 
it  should  also  extend  across  the  Channel  would 
not  be  surprising,  for  Normandy  was  connected 
with  England  by  commercial  as  well  as  dynastic 
ties.  And  William  of  Jumifcges,  writing  within 
fifty  years  of  the  event,  has  given  a  circumstantial 

»  Ralf  Glaber,  iv.,  6. 

66  William  the  Conqueror 

account  of  Robert's  warlike  preparations.  Ac- 
cording to  him  the  invasion  of  England  was  only 
prevented  by  a  storm,  which  threw  the  duke  and 
his  cousin  Edward,  who  was  accompanying  him, " 
on  to  the  coast  of  Jersey.  Robert  does  not  seem 
to  have  repeated  the  attempt,  and  before  it  was 
made  again  England  had  suffered  a  more  subtle 
invasion  of  Norman  ideas  under  the  influence 
of  Edward  the  Confessor. 

Nor  was  Norman  intervention  lacking  at  the 
time  beyond  the  western  border  of  the  duchy. 
Robert  had  inherited  old  claims  to  suzerainty 
over  Brittany,  and  he  tried  to  make  them  a 
reality.  For  some  time  past  Normandy  and 
Brittany  had  been  drawing  nearer  to  each  other; 
Robert  was  himself  a  Breton  on  his  mother's 
side,  and  if  one  aunt  of  his  was  queen  of  England, 
another  was  the  dowager  countess  of  Brittany. 
Breton  politics  were  never  quite  independent  of 
one  or  other  of  the  great  powers  of  north  Prance, 
Normandy,  Anjou,  or  Blois,  each  of  which  could 
put  forward  indeterminate  feudal  claims  over 
the  peninsula.  Anjou,  under  its  restless,  aggres- 
sive counts,  was  here  as  elsewhere  a  formidable 
rival  to  Normandy,  and  in  face  of  its  com- 
petition Robert  could  not  allow  his  claims  on 
Brittany  to  lapse.  Hence,  when  Count  Alan 
repudiated  his  homage,  a  Norman  invasion 
followed,  the  result  of  which  was  a  fresh 
recognition  of  Robert's  overlordship,  and  the 
establishment  of  still  closer  relations  between 


Duke  William's  Minority         67 

the  two  states.1  Alan  is  found  acting  as  one 
of  the  guardians  of  William's  minority — in  fact  he 
died,  probably  from  poison,  while  besieging 
the  revolted  Norman  castle  of  Montgomery  in 
his  ward's  interest — and  his  successor  Conan  was 
never  really  friendly  towards  Normandy.  Yet, 
notwithstanding  his  hostility,  Norman  influ- 
ence steadily  gained  the  upper  hand  in  Brit- 
tany during  William's  life.  It  is  significant 
that  he  drew  more  volunteers  for  his  invasion  of 
England  from  Brittany  than  from  any  other 
district  not  under  his  immediate  rule. 

The  relations  of  Robert  with  the  French  crown 
were  still  more  important:  The  ancient  alliance 
between  the  dukes  of  Normandy  and  the  Capetian 
dynasty  which  William  inherited,  and  which  was 
to  be  his  chief  safeguard  during  the  first  fifteen 
years  of  his  reign,  had  been  greatly  strengthened 
by  the  action  taken  by  Robert  in  the  internal 
affairs  of  the  Isle  de  Prance.  One  of  the  few 
threads  of  consistent  policy  which  run  through 
the  complicated  history  of  this  period  is  the 
persistent  mistrust  of  successive  kings  of  France 
towards  their  formidable  neighbours,  the  counts 
of  Blois.  The  possessions  of  the  latter  lay  astride 
the  royal  demesne  in  two  great  blocks,  the 
county  of  Blois,  which  bordered  it  on  the  west, 
and  the  county  of  Troyes  or  Champagne,  which 
lay  along  its  eastern  frontier.  The  whole  terri- 
torial group  far  exceeded  the  royal  possessions 

i  De  la  Bor4$rie,  Histoire  de  Bretagne,  iii.,  8-13. 

68  William  the  Conqueror 

in  extent  and  resources,  and  its  geographical 
position  gave  its  lords  the  strategical  advantage 
as  well.  Accordingly,  the  French  kings  were 
driven  to  seek  countervailing  support  among 
their  greater  vassals,  and  at  this  time  they  found 
it  in  the  duchy  of  Normandy.  A  similar  alliance 
had  been  formed  in  the  tenth  century  against 
the  Carolingians;  the  traditional  friendship  was 
readily  adapted  to  new  conditions. 

Its  value  was  clearly  proved  by  the  events  which 
followed  the  death  of  King  Robert  the  Pious. 
Henry,  his  eldest  surviving  son,  had  been  asso- 
ciated with  him  in  the  kingship  and  designated 
as  his  successor,  but  Constance  the  queen  dowager 
intrigued  against  the  eldest  brother  in  favour 
of  her  younger  son  Robert.  Odo  II.,  the  able 
and  ambitious  count  of  Blois,  took  the  side  of 
the  latter  and  drove  Henry  out  of  the  royal 
demesne.  He  fled  to  Normandy  and  was  well 
received  by  Robert;  there  exists  a  charter  of  the 
latter  to  the  abbey  of  St.  Wandrille  which  Henry 
attests  as  a  witness  in  company  with  his  fellow- 
exiles,  Edward,  afterwards  king  and  confessor, 
and  Edward's  unlucky  brother  the  Etheling 
Alfred.1  Well  supported  with  Norman  auxiliaries 
Henry  returned  and  conquered  the  royal  demesne 
piecemeal;  and,  in  return  for  Robert's  help,  we  are 
told  that  the  king  ceded  to  him  the  Vexin  Prangais, 
the  district  between  the  Epte  and  the  Oise.2 

i  Round,  Calendar  of  Documents  Preserved  in  France,  526. 
a  This  grant  rests  solely  on  the  authority  of  Ordericus 

Duke  William's  Minority          69 

The  internal  condition  of  Normandy  at  this 
period  might  perhaps  compare  favourably  with 
that  of  any  of  the  greater  fiefs  of  north  France. 
A  succession  of  able  dukes  had,  for  the  time  being, 
reduced  the  Norman  baronage  to  something  like 
order.  Other  countries  also  at  this  time  offered 
a  fairer  field  for  the  exercise  of  superfluous  activity; 
the  more  unquiet  spirits  went  off  to  seek  their 
fortune  in  Spain  or  Italy.  But  in  Normandy,  as 
elsewhere,  everything  depended  on  the  head  of 
the  state.  All  the  familiar  features  of  feudal  an- 
archy, from  the  illicit  appropriation  of  justice  and 
the  right  of  levying  taxes  to  simple  oppression 
and  private  war,  were  still  ready  to  break  out 
under  a  weak  ruler.  And  there  existed  an  addi- 
tional complication  in  the  large  extent  of  territory 
which  was  in  the  hands  of  members  of  the  ducal 
house.  The  lax  matrimonial  relations  of  the 
early  dukes  had  added  a  very  dangerous  element 
to  the  Norman  nobility  in  the  representatives  of 
illegitimate  or  semi-legitimate  lines  of  the  reign- 
ing family.  They  are  collectively  described 
by  William  of  JumiSges  as  the  "Ricardenses," 
and  he  tells  us  with  truth  that  it  was  these  oblique 
kinsmen  of  William  who  felt  most  aggrieved  at, 
and  offered  most  opposition  to,  his  accession. 
They  were  especially  formidable  from  the  practice, 
which  had  been  followed  by  the  early  dukes,  of 
assigning  counties  to  younger  brothers  of  the 

Vitalis,  but  it  is  accepted  by  Flad?,  Les  origines  de  I'ancienne 
France ;  528-530. 

yo  William  the  Conqueror 

intended  heir.  Duke  Robert  himself  had  before 
his  accession  held  the  county  of  the  Hiesmois.  Of 
the  illegitimate  sons  of  Richard  I.,  Robert,  arch- 
bishop of  Rouen,  the  eldest,  held  in  his  lay 
capacity  the  county  of  Evreux;  his  next  brother, 
Malger,  the  county  of  Mortain;  his  youngest 
brother,  William,  the  county  of  Eu;  while  William, 
the  youngest  son  of  Richard  II.,  possessed  the 
county  of  Arques.  It  is  noteworthy  that  each 
of  these  appanages  was,  at  one  period  or  another 
in  the  life  of  William,  the  scene  of  a  real  or  sus- 
pected revolt  against  him. 

Such  was  the  general  condition  of  the  Norman 
state  when  Robert,  in  the  winter  of  1034,  medi- 
tating a  pilgrimage  to  the  Holy  Land,  held  a 
council  at  Fecamp  to  decide  who  should  be  his 
successor  in  case  of  misadventure,  and  brought 
with  him  in  that  capacity  his  seven-year-old  son 
William.1  Notwithstanding  the  discreet  reticence 
of  the  later  writers  who  describe  the  scene,  we 
can  see  that  the  proposal  was  intensely  distasteful 
to  the  Norman  baronage.  To  any  law-abiding 
section  of  the  assembly  it  must  have  meant 
entrusting  the  welfare  of  the  duchy  to  the  most 
doubtful  of  hazards,  and  it  was  a  direct  insult 
to  the  family  pride  of  the  older  Norman  nobility. 
Had  there  existed  at  this  time  any  member 
of  the  ducal  house  who  combined  legitimacy  of 
birth  with  reasonable  proximity  in  the  scale  of 

1  The  meeting  place  of  this  council  is  only  recorded  by 
William  of  Malmesbury,  Gesta  Regum,  ii.,  285. 

Duke  William's  Minority          71 

succession,  Duke  Robert  would  undoubtedly  have 
had  the  greatest  difficulty  in  carrying  his  point. 
But  among  his  many  kinsmen  there  was  not  one 
who  did  not  labour  under  some  serious  disquali- 
fication. Nicholas,  the  illegitimate  son  of  Richard 
III.,  would  have  been  a  possible  claimant,  but 
Duke  Robert  had  taken  the  precaution  of  com- 
pelling him,  child  as  he  was,  to  become  a  monk, 
and  he  was  now  safely  bestowed  in  the  ducal 
monastery  of  Fecamp.1  Guy  of  Brionne,  the 
son  of  Robert's  sister,  was  legitimate  indeed,  but 
was  younger  than  William,  and  would  be  counted 
a  member  of  a  foreign  house;  Malger  and  William, 
Robert's  two  surviving  brothers,  were  both  illegit- 
imate, and  the  former  was  a  churchman.  Mem- 
bers of  the  older  line,  descending  from  Richard 
I.,  probably  stood  too  far  back  from  the  line  of 
succession  to  admit  of  their  appearance  as  serious 
competitors,  and  after  all  there  was  a  strong 
probability  that  the  question  would  not  become 
a  matter  of  immediate  importance.  Pilgrimages 
to  Jerusalem  were  not  infrequent  events  at 
this  time2  and  Robert's  age  was  considerably 
under  thirty.  He  had  previously  secured  the 
assent  of  his  overlord  King  Henry  to  his  proposed 
heir,  and  the  end  of  the  deliberations  at  FScamp 
was  the  recognition  of  William  by  the  Normans 
as  their  future  duke. 

1  Ordericus  Vitalis,  iii.,  431. 

2  Among  contemporaries  who  made  the  journey  may  be 
mentioned  Count  Fulk  Nerraof  Anjou  and  Archbishop  Ealdred 
of  York. 

72  William  the  Conqueror 

As  it  happened,  Duke  Robert's  pilgrimage 
turned  out  ill;  he  died  on  the  homeward  journey, 
at  Nicea,  on  the  second  of  July,  1035,  and  the 
government  fell  to  William,  or  rather  to  the 
guardians  whom  his  father  had  provided  for  him 
before  his  departure.  Of  these  the  highest  in 
rank  was  Count  Alan  of  Brittany,  William's 
cousin,1  with  whom  were  associated  Count  Gilbert 
of  Brionne,  the  ancestor  of  the  mighty  house  of 
Clare,2  Osbern  the  seneschal  of  Normandy,  and 
a  certain  Thorold  or  Thurcytel  de  Neufmarch6, 
the  latter  having  personal  charge  of  the  young 
duke.  It  was  an  ominous  circumstance  that  each 
of  these  men  came  to  a  violent  end  within  five 
years  of  William's  accession.  The  house  of 
Montgomery  alone  accounted  for  two  of  them: 
Osbern  the  seneschal  was  cut  down  in  William's 
bedroom  by  William,  son  of  Roger  de  Montgomery ; 
Count  Alan  met  his  death,  as  we  have  seen,  during 
the  seige  of  Montgomery  Castle  itself.  The 
assassins  of  Thurcytel  de  Neufmarch6  are  not 
recorded  by  name,  and  a  certain  amount  of  con- 
fusion hangs  over  the  end  of  Count  Gilbert  of 
Brionne;  but  William  of  Jumi&ges,  a  good  author- 
ity, states  that  he  fell  a  victim  to  murderers 
hired  by  Ralf  de  Wacy,  the  son  of  Archbishop 
Robert  of  Rouen.  It  is  at  least  certain  that 
.shortly  after  this  last  event  Ralf  de  Wacy  was 

1  Ordericus,  ii.,  369.    Tutorem  sui,  Ducis. 
a  Gesta  Re  gum,  ii.,  285. 

Duke  William's  Minority          73 

chosen  by  William  himself,  acting,  as  is  said,  upon 
the  advice  of  his  chief  men,  as  his  guardian  and 
the  commander  of  the  Norman  army. 

More  important  than  this  list  of  crimes  is  the 
general  question  of  the  relations  which  existed 
at  this  critical  period  between  William  and  the 
king  of  France.  We  have  seen  that  Duke  Robert 
had  secured  the  king's  consent  to  his  nomination 
of  William  as  the  heir  of  Normandy;  and  we  have 
good  reason  for  believing  that  William  after  his 
accession  was,  in  the  feudal  sense  of  the  phrase, 
under  the  guardianship  of  his  overlord.  Weak  as 
the  French  monarchy  seems  to  be  at  this  time  it 
had  not,  thus  early  in  the  eleventh  century,  finally 
become  compelled  to  recognise  the  heritable  char- 
acter of  its  greater  fiefs.  Its  chances  of  inter- 
fering with  credit  would  vary  with  each  occasion. 
If  a  tenant  in  chief  were  to  die  leaving  a  legitimate 
son  of  full  age,  the  king  in  normal  cases  would 
not  try  to  change  the  order  of  inheritance;  but 
a  dispute  between  two  heirs,  or  the  succession 
of  a  minor,  would  give  him  a  fair  field  for  the 
exercise  of  his  legal  rights.  Now  William  of 
Normandy  was  both  illegitimate  and  a  minor  and 
'his  inheritance  was  the  greatest  fief  of  north 
France;  by  taking  up  the  office  of  guardian 
towards  him  the  king  would  at  once  increase  the 
prestige  of  the  monarchy,  and  also  strengthen 
the  ancient  friendship  which  existed  between 
Paris  and  Rouen.  Nor  are  we  left  without  direct 
evidence  on  this  point.  William  of  Malmesbury, 

74  William  the  Conqueror 

in  describing  the  arrangements  made  at  F6camp, 
tells  us  that  Count  Gilbert  of  Brionne,  the  only 
one  of  William's  guardians  whom  he  mentions 
by  name,  was  placed  under  the  surveillance  of 
king  Henry i ;  and  Henry  of  Huntingdon  inciden- 
tally remarks  that  in  1035  William  was  residing 
with  the  king  of*  France  and  that  the  revenues 
of  Normandy  were  temporarily  annexed  to  the 
royal  exchequer.  In  view  of  the  statements  of 
these  independent  writers,  combined  with  the 
antecedent  probability  of  the  case,  we  may  con- 
sider it  probable  that  William,  on  his  father's 
death,  became  the  feudal  ward  of  his  suzerain,2 
and  that  very  shortly  after  his  own  accession  he 
spent  some  time  in  attendance  at  the  royal  court. 
It  must  be  confessed  that  we  know  very  little 
as  to  the  events  of  the  next  ten  years  of  William's 
life.  They  were  critical  years,  for  in  them  William 
was  growing  up  towards  manhood  and  receiving 
the  while  a  severe  initiation  into  the  art  of  govern- 
ment. The  political  conditions  of  the  eleventh 
century  did  not  make  for  quiet  minorities;  they 
left  too  much  to  the  strength  and  discretion  of 
the  individual  ruler.  Private  war,  for  instance, 
might  be  a  tolerable  evil  when  duly  regulated  and 
sanctioned  by  a  strong  duke;  under  the  rule  of  a 
child  the  custom  merely  supplied  a  formal  excuse 

*  Gesta  Regum,  ii.,  285.  "Normannia  fiscus  regalis  erat." 
Henry  of  Huntingdon,  189. 

>  This  is  the  opinion  of  Luchaire,  Institutions  monar- 
chiques,  ii.,  17. 

Duke  William's  Minority          75 

for  the  prevailing  anarchy.  Later  writers  give 
various  incidental  illustrations  of  the  state  of 
Normandy  at  this  period.  We  read,  for  instance, 
how  Roger  de  Toeny,  a  man  of  most  noble  lineage, 
on  returning  to  Normandy  from  a  crusade  against 
the  Moors  in  Spain,  started  ravaging  the  land  of 
his  neighbours  in  sheer  disgust  at  the  accession 
of  a  bastard  to  the  duchy,  and  was  killed  in  the 
war  which  he  had  provoked.1  But  such  stories 
only  concern  the  history  of  William  the  Conqueror 
in  so  far  as  they  indicate  the  nature  of  the  evils 
the  suppression  of  which  was  to  be  his  first  em- 
ployment in  the  coming  years.  To  turn  the 
fighting  energy  inherent  in  feudal  life  from  its 
thousand  unauthorised  channels,  and  to  direct  it 
towards  a  single  aim  controlled  and  determined 
by  himself,  was  to  be  the  work  which  led  to  his 
greatest  achievements.  In  the  incessant  tumults 
of  the  first  ten  years  of  his  reign  we  see  the  aimless 
stirring  of  that  national  force  which  it  is  William's 
truest  glory  to  have  mastered  and  directed  to  his 
own  ends. 

We  get  one  glimpse  of  William  at  this  time 
in  a  charter 2  which  must  have  been  granted  before 
1037,  as  it  is  signed  by  Archbishop  Robert  of 
Rouen,  who  died  in  that  year.  The  document  is  of 
interest  as  it  shows  us  the  young  duke  surrounded 
by  his  court,  perhaps  at  one  of  the  great  church 

»  William  of  Jumi^ges,  vii.,  3. 

2  Round,  Calendar  of  Documents  Preserved  in  France, 
No.  37- 

76  William  the  Conqueror 

festivals  of  the  year.  Among  the  witnesses 
we  find  Counts  Waleran  of  Meulan,  Enguerrand 
of  Ponthieu,  and  Gilbert  of  Brionne;  the  arch- 
bishop of  Dol,  as  well  as  his  brother  metropolitan 
of  Rouen;  Osbern  the  seneschal,  and  four  abbots, 
including  the  head  of  the  house  of  F&amp,  in 
whose  f  avour  the  charter  in  question  was  granted. 
The  presence  of  the  count  of  Ponthieu  and  the 
archbishop  of  Dol  is  important  as  showing  that 
even  at  this  stormy  time  the  connection  between 
Normandy  and  its  neighbours  to  east  and  west 
had  not  been  wholly  severed;  and  it  is  interesting 
to  see  two  of  Wiliam's  unlucky  guardians  actually, 
in  attendance  on  their  lord.  It  may  also  be  noted 
that  at  least  one  other  charter  1  has  survived, 
probably  a  little  later  in  date,  but  granted  at 
any  rate  in  or  before  1042,  in  which  among  a 
number  of  rather  obscure  names  we  find  the 
signature  of  "Haduiardus  Rex,"  which  strange 
designation  undoubtedly  describes  Edward  of 
England,  then  nearing  the  end  of  his  long  exile 
at  the  court  of  Normandy. 

To  this  difficult  period  of  William's  reign  must 
apparently  be  assigned  a  somewhat  mysterious 
episode  which  is  recorded  by  William  of  Jumifcges 
alone  among  our  authorities.  One  of  the  strongest 
border  fortresses  of  Normandy  was  the  castle  of 
Tillferes,  which  commanded  the  valley  of  the 
Arve  and  was  a  standing  menace  to  the  county 
of  Dreux.  The  latter  was  at  this  time  in  the 

i  Round,  Calendar,  No.  251. 

Duke  William's  Minority          77 

hands  of  the  crown,  but  in  the  tenth  century  it 

had  been  granted  to  Richard  the  Fearless,  duke 

of  Normandy.    He  had  ceded  it  to  Count  Odo 

of  Blois  as  the  marriage  portion  of  his  daughter 

Mahaut,  but  on  her  speedy  death  without  issue 

Odo  had  refused  to  return  it  to  his  father-in-law; 

and  in  the  border  warfare  which  followed,  the 

duke  founded  the  castle  of  Tilliferes  as  a  check 

upon  his  acquisitive  neighbour.1     On  Odo's  death 

in  1018  the  county  of  Dreux  passed  to  his  overlord 

the  king  of  France,  but  Tillteres  continued  to 

threaten  this  latest  addition  to  the  royal  demesne. 

We  know  very  little  as  to  what  went  on  in  the 

valley  of  the  Arve  during  the  twenty  years  that 

followed  Odo's  death,  but  by  the  beginning  of 

William's  reign  it  seems  certain  that  the  Norman 

claims  on  Dreux  itself  had  been  allowed  to  lapse, 

and  the  present  dispute  centres  round  Tilli&res 

alone.    At  some  unspecified  period  in  William's 

minority  we  find  King  Henry  declaring  that,  if 

William  wished  to  retain  his  friendship,  Tilliferes 

must  be  dismantled  or  surrendered.    The  young 

duke  himself  and  some  of  his  barons  thought  the 

continued  support  of  the  king  of  France  more 

valuable  than  a  border  fortress  and  were  willing 

to  surrender  the  castle;  but  its  commander,  one 

Gilbert  Crispin,  continued  to  hold  out  against 

the  king.    Tilliferes  was  thereupon  besieged  by  a 

mixed  force  of  Frenchmen  and  Normans,  and 

William,  possibly  appearing  in  person,  ordered 

i  Luchaire,  Institutions  rnon&rchiques,  ii.,  233, 

78  William  the  Conqueror 

Gilbert  Crispin  to  capitulate.  He  obeyed  with 
reluctance  and  the  castle  was  at  once  burned 
down,  the  king  swearing  not  to  rebuild  it  within 
four  years,  but  within  the  stipulated  period  it 
seems  that  the  treaty  was  broken  on  the  French 
side.  The  king  at  first  retired,  but  not  long  after- 
wards he  recrossed  the  border,  passed  across  the 
Hiesmois,  burned  Argentan,  and  then  returning 
rebuilt  the  castle  of  Tilliferes  in  defiance  of  his 
oath,  while  at  the  same  time  it  would  appear  that 
the  viscount  of  the  Hiesmois,  one  Thurstan 
surnamed  "Goz,"  was  in  revolt  against  William 
and  had  garrisoned  Falaise  itself  with  French 
troops.  Falaise  was  at  once  invested,  William 
again  appearing  on  the  scene  to  support  Ralf  de 
Wacy,  the  commander  of  his  army,  and  it  seemed 
probable  that  the  castle  would  be  taken  by 
storm;  but  Thurstan  Goz  was  allowed  to  come 
to  terms  with  the  duke  and  was  banished  from 
Normandy,  his  son  Richard  continuing  in  William's 
service  as  viscount  of  Avranches.  The  family 
is  of  great  interest  in  English  history,  for  Hugh 
the  son  of  the  latter  Richard  was  to  become  the 
first  earl  "palatine"  of  Chester.  And  so  it  may 
be  well  to  note  in  passing  that  the  rebel  Thurstan 
is  described  by  William  of  Jumifeges  as  the  son 
of  Ansfrid  "The  Dane,"  a  designation  which  is  of 
interest  both  as  proving  the  Scandinavian  origin 
of  the  great  house  of  which  he  was  the  progenitor, 
and  also  as  suggesting  that  a  connection,  of 
which  we  have  few  certain  traces,  may  have  been 

Duke  William's  Minority          79 

maintained  between  Normandy  and  its  parent 
lands  for  upwards  of  a  century  after  the  treaty 
of  Claire-sur-Epte. 

The  above  is  the  simplest  account  that  we 
can  give  of  these  transactions,  which  are  not  very 
important  in  themselves,  but  have  been  con- 
sidered to  mark  the  rupture  of  the  old  friendship 
between  the  Capetian  dynasty  and  the  house  of 
Rollo. 1  But  the  whole  subject  is  obscure.  The 
king's  action,  in  particular,  is  not  readily  explica- 
ble on  any  theory,  for  there  is  good  reason  to 
believe  that  at  this  time  he  was  actually  William's 
feudal  guardian  and  certainly  a  few  years  later 
he  appears  as  fully  discharging  the  duties  of  that 
office  on  the  field  of  Val-es-dunes;  so  that  it  is 
not  easy  to  see  why  on  the  present  occasion  he 
should  inflict  gratuitious  injury  on  his  ward  by 
sacking  his  towns  and  burning  his  castles.  The 
affair  of  TilHferes  would  be  quite  intelligible  if  it 
stood  by  itself :  it  was  only  natural  that  the  king 
should  take  advantage  of  his  position  to  secure 
the  destruction  or  surrender  of  a  fortress  which 
threatened  his  own  frontier,  and  the  fact  that 
William  himself  appears  as  ordering  the  sur- 
render would  alone  suggest  that  he  was  acting 
under  the  influence  of  his  overlord.  But  the 
raid  on  Argentan  is  a  more  difficult  matter.  We 
do  not  know,  for  instance,  whether  there  was  any 
connection  between  the  revolt  of  Thurstan  Goz 

i  This  K>  asserted  very  strongly  by  Freeman,  ii..  aoi,  and 
is  implied  by  Luchaire,  Les  Premieres  Cap&iens,  163. 

8o  William  the  Conqueror 

and  the  king's  invasion  of  the  Hiesmois;  the  mere, 
fact  that  the  rebel  commander  of  Falaise  took 
French  knights  into  his  pay,  by  no  means  proves 
that  he  was  acting  in  concert  with  the  French 
king.  The  story  as  we  have  it  suggests  that  there 
may  have  been  two  parties  in  Normandy  at  this 
time,  one  disposed  to  render  obedience  to  the  king 
of  France  as  overlord,  the  other  maintaining  the 
independence  of  the  Norman  baronage;  a  state 
of  affairs  which  might  readily  lead  to  the  armed 
intervention  of  the  king  of  France,  half  in  his  own 
interest,  half  in  that  of  his  ward.  But  considering 
the  fact  that  we  owe  our  knowledge  of  these 
events  to  one  chronicler  only,  and  that  he  wrote 
when  the  rivalry  between  Normandy  and  France 
had  become  permanent  and  keen,  we  may  not 
improbably  suspect  that  he  antedated  the  be- 
ginning of  strife  between  these  two  great  powers, 
and  read  the  events  of  William's  minority  in  the 
light  of  his  later  history. 

The  revolt  of  western  Normandy  which  took 
place  in  the  year  1047  marks  the  dose  of  this 
obscure  and  difficult  period  in  William's  life.;  it 
is  in  the  crisis  of  this  year  that  something  of  the 
personality  of  the  future  Conqueror  is  revealed 
to  us  for  the  first  time.  With  the  battle  of  Val-es- 
dunes  William  attained  his  true  majority  and 
became  at  last  the  conscious  master  of  his  duchy, 
soon  to  win  the  leading  place  among  the  greater 
vassals  of  the  French  crown.  For  ten  years 
more,  indeed,  he  was  to  be  confronted,  at  first  by 


Duke  William's  Minority          81 

members  of  his  own  family,  whose  ill-will  became 
at  times  something  more  than  passive  disaffection, 
and  afterwards  by  his  overlord  made  jealous  by 
his  increasing  power,  but  the  final  issue  was 
never  again  in  serious  doubt  after  his  barons  had 
once  tried  conclusions  with  him  in  pitched  battle 
and  had  lost  the  game. 

For  all  this,  the  revolt  of  1047  came  near  putting 
a  summary  close  to  William's  career  and  life. 
Normandy  at  this  time  was  far  from  being  a 
homogeneous  state;  apart  from  the  general 
tendency  of  feudalism  towards  the  isolation  of 
individual  barons,  the  greater  divisions  of  the 
duchy  had  as  yet  little  real  cohesion;  and  a  line 
of  cleavage  which  is  all-important  in  this  revolt 
is  marked  by  the  river  -  Dive,  which  separates 
Rouen  and  its  territory,  where  the  ducal  power 
might  be  expected  to  be  at  its  strongest,  from 
the  lands  of  the  Bessin  and  Cotentin,  which  were 
always  predisposed  to  local  independence.  These 
districts,  as  we  have  seen,  formed  no  part  of  the 
territory  ceded  to  Rollo  by  the  treaty  of  Claire- 
sur-Epte,  and  it  is  quite  possible  that  the  course 
of  events  in  the  present  year  may  have  been 
affected  by  the  distinction  between  the  Gallicised 
Northmen  of  the  Rouennais  and  Evrfccin  and  the 
more  primitive  folk  of  the  lands  west  of  Dive. 
At  any  rate  it  was  from  the  latter  quarter  that 
the  main  strength  of  the  rising  was  drawn.  The 
Bassin  and  Cotentin  revolted  under  their  re- 
spective viscounts,  Raadolf  de  Brichessart  and 

82  William  the  Conqueror 

Neel  de  Saint  Sauveur,  the  latter  being  the  most 
prominent  leader  in  the  whole  affair;  and  with 
them  were  associated  one  Hamo,  nicknamed 
"Dentatus,"  the  lord  of  Thorigny  and  Creuilly, 
and  Grimbald  the  seigneur  of  Plessis.  The  nomi- 
nal head  of  the  revolt  was  William's  cousin  Guy, 
son  of  Reginald,  count  of  the  Burgundian  Palati- 
nate by  Adeliz,  daughter  of  Duke  Richard  II.  of 
Normandy,  a  young  man,  who  up  to  this  time 
had  been  the  constant  companion  of  William, 
and  had  received  from  him  Brionne  and  Vernon, 
two  of  the  most  important  castles  of  eastern 
Normandy.  Guy  was  one  of  the  few  legitimate 
members  of  the  ducal  family,  and  he  and  his 
confederates  found  a  justification  for  their  rising 
in  the  stain  which  rested  upon  William's  birth. 
We  are  told  that  their  ultimate  object  was  to 
divide  the  duchy  among  themselves,  and  we  may 
suppose  that  Guy  would  have  taken  Rouen  and 
the  surrounding  country  with  the  title  of  duke, 
leaving  the  western  lords  in  practical  independence. 
The  latter  took  an  oath  to  support  his  claims 
and  to  depose  William,  and  they  put  their  castles 
into  a  state  of  defence. 

When  the  revolt  broke  out  William  was  in 
the  heart  of  the  enemies'  country  at  Valognes, 
a  town  which  seems  to  have  been  his  favourite 
hunting  seat  in  the  west  of  Normandy.  The 
opportunity  was  too  good  to  be  missed,  and  a 
plot  was  laid  for  his  capture  which  came  within 
an  ace  of  success,  and  according  to  later  tradition 

Duke  William's  Minority          83 

was  only  discovered,  on  the  point  of  its  execution, 
by  Gallet,  William's  fool.  The  duke  had  gone  to 
bed  when  Gallet  burst  into  his  room  and  called 
on  him  to  escape  for  his  life.  Clad  in  such  gar- 
ments as  came  to  hand  William  sprang  on  horse- 
back, and  rode  away  through  the  dead  of  night 
eastwards  towards  his  native  and  loyal  town  of 
Falaise.  He  took  the  coast  road,  crossing  the 
estuary  of  the  Vire  at  low-  water,  and  by  day- 
break he  had  covered  the  forty  miles  which 
separate  Valognes  from  Rye.  It  so  chanced  that 
Hubert  the  lord  of  Rye  was  standing  between 
his  castle  mound  and  the  neighbouring  church 
as  the  duke  came  riding  by,  and  recognising  his 
lord  he  asked  the  reason  of  his  haste.  Upon 
learning  of  his  danger  Hubert  called  three  of  his 
sons  and  bade  them  escort  the  duke  to  Falaise; 
but  even  in  the  capital  of  his  native  province 
William  made  no  delay,  and  hastened  across  the 
borders  of  his  duchy  to  ask  help  of  his  overlord 
and  guardian,  King  Henry  of  France.1  The  king 
and  the  duke  met  at  Poissy,  and  a  French  army 
prepared  to  enter  Normandy  under  the  leadership 
of  the  king  in  person,  while  on  his  part  William 
summoned  the  men  of  Rouen,  Auge,  Lisieux, 
Evreux,  and  the  Hiesmois,  men,  that  is,  from 
all  Normandy  east  of  the  Dive  and  from 
the  territory  belonging  to  Falaise,  west  of  that 

*  The  whole  story  of  the  duke's  ride  from  Valognes  to 
Falaise  rests  upon  the  sole  authority  of  Wace,  and  is  only 
given  hare  as  a  matter  of  tradition. 

84  William  the  Conqueror 

river.  The  Normans  assembled  in  the  latter 
district  and  concentrated  on  the  Meance  .near 
Argences;  the  French  army  drew  together  on  the 
Laison  between  Argences  and  Mezidon.  King 
Henry  heard  mass  and  arranged  his  troops  at 
Valmeray,  then  crossed  the  Olne  on  to  the  plain 
of  Val-es-dunes  and  drew  up  his  men  on  the  bank 
of  the  river.  In  that  position  he  was  joined  by 
William,  who  had  crossed  at  the  ford  of  Berangier, 
and  the  combined  force  prepared  for  battle,  the 
Frenchmen  forming  the  left  wing  and  the  Normans 
the  right.1 

In  the  meantime  the  revolt  had  spread  apace. 
The  rebels  had  seized  the  duke's  demesne  and,  it 
would  seem,  were  prepared  to  invade  the  loyal 
country  across  the  Dive,  for  they  had  reached 
Val-es-dunes  before  the  king  and  the  duke  had 
arrived    there.      Like    their    opponents,    they 
drew  up  their  army  in  two  divisions,  the  men  of 
the  Cotentin  forming  the  right  wing  and  those  of 
the  Bessin  the  left.    The  battle  seems  to  have 
begun  by  a  charge  of  the  Cotentin  men  on  the 
French,  but  of  the  struggle  which  followed  we 
have  only  a  confused  and  indefinite  account;  it 
appears  to  have  been  a  simple  cavalry  encounter, 
calling  for  no  special  tactical  skill  in  the  leaders 
of  either  side.    Even  in  most  of  the  Norman 
accounts  of  the  battle  William  plays  a  part  dis- 
tinctly secondary  to  that  of  his  overlord,  although 
the  latter  had  the  ill  luck  to  be  unhoreed  twice 
1  The  topography  of  the  battle  is  derived  from  Wace. 

Duke  William's  Minority          85 

during  the  day,  once  by  a  knight  of  the  Cotentin 
and  once  by  the  rebel  leader  Hamo  "Dentatus." 
Before  long  the  fight  was  going  decisively  in 
favour  of  the  loyal  party.  The  rebel  leaders 
seem  to  have  mistrusted  each  other's  good  faith. 
In  particular  Ralf  of  Brichessart  began  to  fear 
treachery;  he  suspected  that  Neel  de  Saint  Sauveur 
might  have  left  the  field,  while  one  of  his  own 
most  distinguished  vassals  had  been  cut  down 
before  his  eyes,  by  the  duke's  own  hand  as  later 
Norman  tradition  said.  Accordingly,  long  before 
the  fight  was  over  he  left  the  field,  but  the  western 
men  were  still  held  together  by  Neel,  who  made 
a  determined  stand  on  the  high  ground  by  the 
church  of  St.  Lawrence.  At  last  he  too  gave  way, 
the  flight  became  general,  and  it  was  at  this  point 
that  the  rebel  force  suffered  its  heaviest  losses,  for 
the  broken  army  tried  to  make  its  way  into  the 
friendly  land  of  the  Bessin,  and  the  river  Olne 
lay  immediately  to  the  west  of  the  plateau  of 
Val-es-dunes.  Large  numbers  of  the  rebels  per- 
ished in  the  river  and  the  rest  escaped  between 
Alegmagne  and  Parlenay,  while  Guy  himself,  who 
had  been  wounded  in  the  battle,  fled  eastward 
to  his  castle  of  Brionne. 

The  reduction  of  this  fortress  must  have  been 
for  William  the  most  formidable  part  of  the  whole 
campaign.  Even  in  the  middle  of  the  eleventh 
century  the  art  of  fortification  was  much  more 
fully  developed  than  the  art  of  attack,  and  at 
Brionne  the  site  of  the  castle  materially  aided 

80  William  the  Conqueror 

the  work  of  defence.  The  castle  itself  stood 
on  an  island  in  the  river  Eisle,  which  at  that  point 
was  unfordable,  and  it  was  distinguished  from 
the  wooden  fortifications  common  at  the  time 
by  the  fact  that  it  contained  a  stone  "hall," 
which  was  evidently  considered  the  crowning 
feature  of  its  defences.1  Immediately,  it  would 
seem,  after  the  battle  of  Val-es-dunes  King  Henry 
retired  to  France,  while  William  hastened  to  the 
siege  of  Brionne.  A  direct  attack  on  the  castle 
being  impossible,  William  built  counterworks  on 
either  bank  of  the  Risle  and  set  to  work  to  starve 
the  garrison  into  surrender.  By  all  accounts 
the  process  took  a  long  time,2  but  at  last  the 
failure  of  supplies  drove  Guy  to  send  and  ask  for 
terms  with  William.  These  were  sufficiently 
lenient;  Guy  was  required  to  surrender  Brionne 
and  Vernon,  but  was  allowed  to  live  at  William's 
court  if  he  pleased.  No  very  drastic  measures 
were  taken  with  regard  to  the  rebels  of  lower 
rank,  but  William,  realising  with  true  instinct 
where  his  real  danger  had  lain,  dismantled  the 
castles  which  had  been  fortified  against  him;  and 
with  the  disappearance  of  the  castles  the  fear3  of 

*  William  of  Poitiers,  81.     - 

2  Ordericus  Vitalis  (iii.,  342)  makes  a  pointed  reference  to 
tie  length  of  time  occupied  by  the  present  siege  in  comparison 
•with  the  capture  of  Brionne  in  a  single  day  by  Robert  of 
Normandy  in  1090.    But  it  is  impossible  to  accept  his  state- 
ment that  the  resistance  of  Guy  of  Burgundy  was  protracted 
for  three  years. 

3  William  of  Poitiers,  Si:  "Bella  domestica  apud  nos  in 
longum  sopivit." 

Duke  William's  Minority          87 

civil  war  vanished  from  Normandy  for  a  while. 
The  capital  punishment  of  rebellious  vassals  was 
not  in  accordance  with  the  feudal  custom  of  the 
time.1  The  legal  doctrine  of  sovereignty,  which 
made  the  levying  of  war  against  the  head  of  the 
state  the  most  heinous  of  all  crimes,  was  the 
creation  of  the  revived  study  of  Roman  law  in 
the  next  century;  and  a  mere  revolt,  if  unaggra- 
vated  by  any  special  act  of  treason,  could  still 
be  atoned  for  by  the  imprisonment  of  the  leaders 
and  the  confiscation  of  their  lands.  To  this 
we  must  add  that  William  as  yet  was  no  king, 
the  head  of  no  feudal  hierarchy;  the  distance  that 
separated  him  from  a  viscount  of  Coutances  was 
far  less  than  the  distance  that  came  to  separate 
a  duke  of  Somerset  from  Edward  IV.  The  one 
man  who  was  treated  with  severity  on  the  present 
occasion  was  Grimbald  of  Plessis,  on  whom  was 
laid  the  especial  guilt  of  the  attempt  on  William's 
life  at  Valognes.  He  was  sent  into  perpetual 
imprisonment  at  Rouen,  where  he  shortly  died, 
directing  that  he  should  be  buried  in  his  fetters 
as  a  traitor  to  his  lord.2  Guy  of  Burgundy  seems 
to  have  become  completely  discredited  by  his 

»  In  the  imperfectly  feudalised  state  of  England  a  stricter 
doctrine  seemfi  to  have  prevailed:  see,  on  Waltheofs  case 
below,  page 

a  This  rests  on  no  better  authority  than  Wace.  We  know 
with  more  certainty  that  the  lands  which  Grimbald  forfeited 
were  bestowed  by  William  upon  the  See  of  Bayeux,  of  which 
Odo,  the  duke's  brother,  became  bishop  in  1048. — Eng.  Hist. 
Rev.,  xxii.,  644- 

&8  William  the  Conqueror 

conduct  in  the  war,  life  in  Normandy  became  un- 
bearable to  him,  and  of  his  own  free  will  he  retired 
to  Burgundy,  and  vanishes  from  Norman  history. 
The  war  was  over,  and  William's  future  in 
Normandy  was  secured,  but  the  revolt  had  in- 
direct results  which  extended  far  beyond  the 
immediate  sequence  of  events.  It  was  William's 
duty  and  interest  to  return  the  service  which 
King  Henry  had  just  done  to  him,  and  it  was 
this  which  first  brought  him  into  hostile  relations 
with  the  rising  power  on  the  lower  Loire,  the 
county  of  Anjou.  The  history  of  Anjou  is  in 
great  part  the  record  of  a  continuous  process  of 
territorial  expansion,  which,  even  by  the  be- 
ginning of  the  eleventh  century  had  raised  the 
petty  lordship  of  Angers  to  the  position  of  a 
feudal  power  of  the  first  rank.  Angers  itself, 
situated  as  it  was  in  the  centre  of  the  original 
Anjou,  was  an  excellent  capital  for  a  line  of 
aggressive  feudal  princes,  who  were  enabled  to 
strike  at  will  at  Brittany,  Maine,  Touraine,  or 
Saintonge,  and  made  the  most  of  their  strategical 
advantage.  With  Normandy  the  counts  of  Anjou 
had  not  as  yet  come  into  conflict;  the  county  of 
Maine  had  up  to  the  present  separated  the  two 
states,  and  the  collision  might  have  been  indefi- 
nitely postponed  had  not  the  events  of  1047 
compelled  William  of  Normandy  to  bear  his  part 
in  a  quarrel  which  shortly  afterwards  broke  out 
between  the  king  of  Prance  and  Count  Geoffrey 
II.  of  Anjou. 

Duke  William's  Minority          89 

The  first  five  years  of  William's  minority  had 
coincided,  in  the  history  of  Anjou,  with  the  close 
of  the  long  reign  of  Count  Fulk  Nerra,  who  for 
more  than  fifty  years  had  been  extending  the 
borders  of  his  county  with  unceasing  energy  and 
an  entire  absence  of  moral  scruple,  and  has  justly 
been  described  as  the  founder  of  the  Angevin 
state.  His  son  and  successor  Geoffrey,  commonly 
known  in  history,  as  to  his  contemporaries,  under 
the  significant  nickname  of  Martel,  continued 
his  father's  work  of  territorial  aggrandisement. 
He  had  three  distinct  objects  in  view:  to  round 
off  his  hereditary  possessions  by  getting  possession 
of  Touraine,  and  to  extend  his  territory  to  the 
north  and  south  of  the  Loire  at  the  expense  of 
the  counts  of  Maine  and  Poitou  respectively. 
His  methods,  as  described  by  Norman  historians, 
were  elementary;  his  favourite  plan  was  to 
seize  the  person  of  his  enemy  and  allow  him  to 
ransom  himself  by  the  cession  of  the  desired 
territory.  This  simple  device  proved  effective 
with  the  counts  of  Poitou  and  Blois;  from  the 
former,  even  before  the  death  of  Fulk  Nerra, 
Geoffrey  had  extorted  the  cession  of  Saintonge, 
and  from  the  latter,  after  a  great  victory  at 
Montlouis  in  1044,  he  gained  full  possession  of  the 
county  of  Touraine.  The  conquest  of  Touraine 
was  undertaken  with  the  full  consent  of  the  king 
of  France;  the  counts  of  Blois,  as  we  have  seen, 
were  ill  neighbours  to  the  royal  demesne,  and 
King  Henry  and  his  successors  were  always 

9o          William  the  Conqueror 

ready  to  ally  themselves  with  any  power  capable 
of  making  a  diversion  in  their  favour.  On  the 
other  hand  their  policy  was  not,  and  could  not  be, 
consistent  in  this  respect ;  the  rudimentary  balance 
of  power,  which  was  all  that  they  could  hope  to 
attain  at  this  time,  was  always  liable  to  be  over- 
thrown by  the  very  means  which  they  took  to 
preserve  it;  a  count  of  Anjou  in  possession  of 
Saintonge  and  Touraine  could  be  a  more  danger- 
ous rival  to  the  monarchy  than  the  weakened 
count  of  Blois.  Accordingly,  less  than  four  years 
after  the  battle  of  Montlouis,  we  find  King  Henry 
in  arms  against  Geoffrey  Martel,  and  William 
of  Normandy  attracted  by  gratitude  and  feudal 
duty  into  the  conflict.1 

When  William,  archdeacon  of  Lisieux,  the  Con- 
queror's first  biographer,  was  living,  an  exile 
as  he  styles  himself,  in  Poitou  shortly  after  this 
time,  the  prowess  of  the  young  duke  in  this 
campaign  was  a  matter  of  current  conversation.2 
The  Frenchmen,  we  are  told,  were  brought  to 
realise  unwillingly  that  the  army  led  by  William 
from  Normandy  was  greater  by  far  than  the 
whole  force  supplied  by  all  the  other  potentates 
who  took  part  in  the  war.  We  are  also  told  that 
King  Henry  had  the  greatest  regard  for  his  prot6g6, 
took  his  advice  on  all  military  matters,  and 
remonstrated  with  him  affectionately  on  his  too 

1  "Vidssitudinem  post  haec  ipse  Regi  fide  studiosissima 
»  William  of  Poitiers,  82. 

Duke  William's  Minority          91 

great  daring  in  the  field.  William  seems  in  his 
early  days  to  have  possessed  a  full  share  of  that 
delight  in  battle  which  is  perhaps  the  main 
motive  underlying  the  later  romances  of  chivalry, 
and  his  reputation  rose  rapidly  and  extended  far. 
Geoffrey  Martel  himself  said  that  there  could 
nowhere  be  found  so  good  a  knight  as  the 
duke  of  Normandy.  The  princes  of  Gascony  and 
Auvergne  and  even  the  kings  of  Spain  sent  him 
presents  of  horses  and  tried  to  -win  his  favour.1 
Also  it  must  have  been  about  this  time  that 
William  made  overtures  to  Baldwin,  count  of 
Flanders,  for  the  hand  of  his  daughter,  while  in 
1051  we  know  that  he  made  a  journey,  fraught 
with  memorable  consequences,  to  the  court  of 
Edward  the  Confessor.  In  fact,  with  the  sub- 
jugation of  his  barons  and  his  first  Angevin 
war  William  sprang  at  a  bound  into  fame;  the 
political  stage  of  France  lacked  an  actor  of 
the  first  order,  and  William  in  the  flush  of  his 
early  manhood  was  an  effective  contrast  to 
the  subtle  and  dangerous  count  of  Anjou. 

At  some  undetermined  point  in  the  war  an 
opportunity  presented  itself  for  Geoffrey  Martel 
to  gain  a  foothold  in  Norman  territory.  On  the 
border  between  Normandy  and  Maine  stand  the 
towns  of  Domfront  and  Alengon,  each  command- 
ing a  river  valley  and  a  corresponding  passage 
from  the  south  into  Normandy.  Domfront  formed 
part  of  the  great  border  fief  of  BellSme,  and  at 

i  William  of  Poitiers,  82. 

92  William  the  Conqueror 

this  time  it  was  included  in  the  county  of  Maine, 
over  whi'ch,  as  we  shall  see  later,  Geoffrey  Martel 
was  exercising  rights  of  suzerainty.  Alengon 
was  wholly  Norman,  but  its  inhabitants  found 
William's  strict  justice  unbearable,  and  being 
thus  predisposed  for  revolt  they  admitted  a 
strong  Angevin  garrison  sent  by  Geoffrey  Martel. 
William  decided  to  retaliate  by  capturing  Dom- 
front,  leaving  Alengon  to  be  retaken  afterwards.1 
The  plan  was  reasonable,  but  it  nearly  led  to 
William's  destruction,  for  a  traitor  in  the  Norman 
army  gave  information  as  to  his  movements  to 
the  men  of  Domfront,  and  it  was  only  through 
his  personal  prowess  that  William  escaped  an 
ambush  skilfully  laid  to  intercept  him  as  he  was 
reconnoitring  near  the  city.  The  siege  which 
followed  was  no  light  matter.  It  was  winter, 
Geoffrey  had  thrown  a  body  of  picked  men  into 
the  castle,  and,  unlike  Brionne,  Domfront  was 
a  hill  fortress,  accessible  at  the  time  only  by 
two  steep  and  narrow  paths.  It  would  thus  be 
difficult  to  carry  the  place  by  sudden  assault; 
so  William,  as  formerly  at  Brionne  and  later  at 
Arques,  established  counterworks  and  waited 
for  the  result  of  a  blockade,  harassing  the  garrison 
meanwhile  by  incessant  attacks  on  their  walls. 
The  counterworks,  we  are  told,  consisted  of  four 
"castles,"  presumably  arranged  so  as  to  cover 
the  base  of  the  hill  on  which  Domfront  stands, 
and  William  contented  himself  for  the  present 
1  William  of  Poitieis,  87. 

Duke  William's  Minority          93 

with  securing  his  own  supplies  and  preventing 
any  message  being  carried  from  the  garrison  to 
the  count  of  Anjou,  in  the  meantime  making  use 
of  the  opportunities  for  sport  which  the  neigh- 
bouring country  offered.  At  last  the  men  of 
Domfort  contrived  to  get  a  messenger  through 
the  Norman  lines  and  Geoffrey  advanced  to 
the  relief  of  his  allies  with  a  large  army.  What 
followed  may  be  told  in  the  words  of  William 
of  Poitiers : 

"When  William  knew  this  he  hastened  against 
him  [Geoffrey],  entrusting  the  maintenance  of  the 
siege  to  approved  knights,  and  sent  forward  as  scouts 
Roger  de  Montgomery  and  William  fitz  Osbern,  both 
young  men  and  eager,  who  learned  the  insolent 
intention  of  the  enemy  from  his  own  words.  For 
Geoffrey  made  known  by  them  that  he  would  beat 
up  William's  guards  before  Domfront  at  dawn  the 
next  day,  and  signified  also  what  manner  of  horse  he 
would  ride  in  the  battle  and  what  should  be  the 
fashion  of  his  shield  and  clothing.  But  they  replied 
that  he  need  trouble  himself  no  further  with  the 
journey  which  he  designed,  for  he  whom  he  sought 
would  come  to  him  with  speed,  and  then  in  their  turn 
they  described  the  horse  of  their  lord,  his  clothing 
and  arms.  These  tidings  increased  not  a  little  the 
zeal  of  the  Normans,  but  the  duke  himself,  the  most 
eager  of  all,  incited  them  yet  further.  Perchance 
this  excellent  youth  wished  to  destroy  a  tyrant,  for 
the  senate  of  Rome  and  Athens  held  such  an  act  to 
be  the  fairest  of  all  noble  deeds.  But  Geoffrey, 
smitten  with  sudden  terror,  before  he  had  so  much  as 

94  William  the  Conqueror 

seen  the  opposing  host  sought  safety  in  flight  with 
his  whole  army,  and  lo!  the  path  lay  open  whereby 
the  Norman  duke  might  spoil  the  wealth  of  his 
enemy  and  blot  out  his  rival's  name  with  everlasting 

It  is  painful  to  pass  from  this  rhapsody  to  what 
is  perhaps  the  grimmest  scene  in  William's  life. 
The  retreat  of  Geoffrey,  to  whatever  cause  it  is 
to  be  assigned,  exposed  Alengon  to  William's 
vengeance.  Leaving  a  sufficient  force  before 
Domfront  to  maintain  the  siege,  in  a  single  night's 
march  he  crossed  the  water-parting  of  the  Varenne 
and  the  Sarthe,  and  approached  Alengon  as  dawn 
was  breaking.  Facing  him  was  the  fortified  bridge 
over  the  Sarthe,  behind  it  lay  the  town,  and  above 
the  town  stood  the  castle,  all  fully  defended. 
On  the  bridge  certain  of  the  citizens  had  hung 
out  skins,  and  as  William  drew  near  they  beat 
them,  shouting  "Hides  for  the  tanner."2  With 
a  mighty  oath  the  young  duke  swore  that  he  would 
prune  those  men  as  it  were  with  a  pollarding 
knife,  and  within  a  few  hours  he  had  executed  his 
threat.  The  bridge  was  stormed  and  the  town 
taken,  William  unroofing  the  houses  which  lay 
outside  the  wall  and  using  the  timber  as  fuel  to 
burn  the  gates,  but  the  castle  still  held  out. 
Thirty-two  of  the  citizens  were  then  brought  before 
the  duke;  their  hands  and  feet  were  struck  off 
and  flung  straightway  over  the  wall  of  the  castle 

»  William  of  Poitiers,  88. 

2  William  of  Jumteges  vii.,  18. 

Duke  William's  Minority          95 

among  its  defenders. i  With  the  hasty  submission 
of  the  castle  which  followed  William  was  free  to 
give  his  whole  attention  to  the  reduction  of  Dom- 
front,  and  on  his  return  he  found  the  garrison 
already  demoralised  by  the  news  of  what  had  hap- 
pened at  Alengon,  and  by  the  ineffective  departure 
of  Geoffrey  Martd.  They  made  an  honourable 
surrender  and  Domfront  became  a  Norman  pos- 
session,2  the  first  point  gained  in  the  struggle 
which  was  not  to  end  until  a  count  of  Anjou 
united  the  thrones  of  Normandy,  Maine,  and 

1  William  of  Jumieges,  vii.,  18.    The  duke's  oath  is  given  by 
Wace:  Roman  de  Ron,  9468. 
*  William  of  Poitiers,  89. 

Denier  of  Geoffrey  Mart  el 



DETWEEN  the  first  Angevin  war  and  the  out- 
JD  break  of  overt  hostilities  between  Normandy 
and  France,  there  occurs  a  period  of  five  or 
six  years  the  historical  interest  of  which  lies 
almost  entirely  in  the  internal  affairs  of  the  Nor- 
man state.  It  was  by  no  means  an  unimportant 
time;  it  included  one  external  event  of  great  im- 
portance, William's  visit  to  England  in  1051,  but 
its  real  significance  lay  in  the  gradual  consolidation 
of  his  power  in  Normandy  and  its  results.  On 
the  one  hand  it  was  in  these  years  that  William 
finally  suppressed  the  irreconcilable  members  of 
his  own  family;  on  the  other  hand  the  gradual 
dissolution  of  the  traditional  alliance  between 
Normandy  and  the  Capetian  house  runs  parallel 
to  this  process  and  is  essentially  caused  by  it. 
Prom  the  very  time  when  William  attained  his 
majority  these  two  powers  begin  steadily  to  drift 
apart;  the  breach  widens  as  William's  power  in- 
creases, and  the  support  given  by  the  king  of 
France  in  these  years  to  Norman  rebels  such  as 
William  Busac  and  William  of  Arques  is  naturally 
followed  by  his  invasions  of  Normandy  in  1054 
and  1058.  As  compensation  for  this  William's 


Rebellion  and  Invasion  97 

marriage  with  Matilda  of  Flanders  falls  within 
the  same  period,  and  events  ruled  that  the  alliance 
thus  formed  was  to  neutralise  the  enmity  of 
the  Capetian  house  at  the  critical  moment  of  the 
invasion  of  England.  There  is  indeed  a  sense 
in  which  we  may  say  that  it  was  William's  suc- 
cess in  these  six  years  which  made  the  invasion 
of  England  possible;  whether  consciously  or  not, 
William  was  making  indispensable  preparation 
for  his  supreme  endeavour  when  he  was  taking 
the  castles  of  his  unquiet  kinsmen  and  banishing 
them  from  Normandy. 

The  first  of  them  to  go  was  William  surnamed 
"  the  Warling,"  count  of  Mortain  and  grandson  of 
Duke  Richard  the  Fearless.  His  fall  was  sudden 
and  dramatic.  As  we  have  only  one  narrative  of. 
these  events  it  may  be  given  here  at  length: 

"At  that  time  William  named  the  Warling,  of 
Richard  the  Great's  line,  was  count  of  Mortain.  One 
day  a  certain  knight  of  his  household,  called  Robert 
Bigot,  came  to  him  and  said,  'My  Lord,  I  am  very 
poor  and  in  this  country  I  cannot  obtain  relief;  I  will 
therefore  go  to  Auplia,  where  I  may  live  more  honour- 
ably. '  'Who,'  said  William,  'has  advised  you  thus? ' 
'The  poverty  which  I  suffer/  replied  Robert.  Then 
said  William,  'Within  eight  days,  in  Normandy  itself , 
you  shall  be  able  in  safety  to  seize  with  your  own 
hands  whatever  you  may  require.'  Robert  there- 
fore, submitting  to  his  lord's  counsel,  bided  his  time, 
and  shortly  afterwards,  through  Richard  of  Avranches 
his  kinsman,  gained  the  acquaintance  of  the  duke. 
One  day  they  were  talking  in  private  when 'Robert 


98  William  the  Conqueror 

among  other  matters  repeated  the  above  speech  of 
Count  William.  The  duke  thereupon  summoned  the 
count  and  asked  him  what  he  meant  by  talk  of  this 
kind,  but  he  could  not  deny  the  matter,  nor  did  he 
dare  to  tell  his  real  meaning.  Then  said  the  duke  in 
his  wrath:  'You  have  planned  to  confound  Normandy 
with  seditious  war,  and  wickedly  have  you  plotted 
to  rebel  against  me  and  disinherit  me,  therefore  it  is 
that  you  have  promised  booty  to  your  needy  knight. 
But,  God  granting  it,  the  unbroken  peace  which  we 
desire  shall  remain  to  us.  Do  you  therefore  depart 
from  Normandy,  nor  ever  return  hither  so  long  as  I 
live.'  William  thus  exiled  sought  Apulia  wretchedly, 
accompanied  by  only  one  squire,  and  the  duke  at  once 
promoted  Robert  his  brother  and  gave  him  the  county 
of  Mortain.  Thus  harshly  did  he  abuse  the  haughty 
kindred  of  his  father  and  honourably  exalt  the  humble 
kindred  of  his  mother.'1  i 

The  moral  of  the  story  lies  in  its  last  sentence. 
The  haughty  kindred  of  the  duke's  father  were 
beginning  to  show  themselves  dangerous,  and 
William  threw  down  the  challenge  to  them  once 
for  all  when  he  disinherited  the  grandson  of 
Richard  the  Great  in  favour  of  the  grandson 
of  the  tanner  of  Falaise.  But,  apart  from  the 
personal  questions  involved,  the  tale  is  eminently 
illustrative  of  William's  conception  of  his  duty 
as  a  ruler.  By  policy  as  well  as  prepossession 
he  was  driven  to  be  the  stern  maintainer  of  order; 
the  men  who  would  stir  up  civil  war  in  Normandy 

i  William  of  Jumi&ges,  vii.,  19. 

Rebellion  and  Invasion  99 

wished  also  to  disinherit  its  duke,  and  from  this 
followed  naturally  that  community  of  interest 
between  the  ruler  and  his  meaner  subjects  as 
against  the  greater  baronage  which  was  typical 
of  the  early  Middle  Ages  in  Normandy  and  Eng- 
land alike.  It  is  inadvisable  to  scrutinise  too 
narrowly  the  means  taken  by  William  to  secure 
his  position;  if  on  the  present  occasion  he  exiled 
his  cousin  on  the  mere  information  of  a  single 
knight,  he  had  already  been  taught  the  wisdom 
of  striking  at  the  root  of  a  rebellion  before  it  had 
time  to  grow  to  a  head.  We  must  not  expect 
too  much  forbearance  from  the  head  of  a  feudal 
state  in  his  dealings  with  a  suspected  noble  when 
the  banishment  of  the  latter  would  place  a  dan- 
gerous fief  at  the  former's  disposal.  Lastly,  we 
may  notice  the  way  in  which  Apulia  is  evidently 
regarded  as  a  land  of  promise  at  this  time  by  all 
who  seek  better  fortune  than  Normandy  can  give 
them.  In  the  eleventh  century,  as  in  the  fifteenth, 
Italy  was  exercising  its  perennial  attraction  for 
the  men  of  the  ruder  north,  and  under  the  leader- 
ship of  the  sons  of  Tancred  of  Hauteville  a 
new  Normandy  was  rising  on  the  wreck  of  the 
Byzantine  Empire  in  the  West  by  the  shores  of 
the  Ionian  Sea. 

Probably  about  this  time,  and  possibly  not 
without  some  connection  with  the  disaffection  of 
William  the  Warling,  there  occurred  another 
abortive  revolt,  of  which  the  scene  was  laid,  as 
usual,  in  one  of  the  semi-independent  counties 

ioo         William  the  Conqueror 

held  by  members  of  the  ducal  house.     In  the 
north-east  corner  of  Normandy  the  town  of  Eu 
with  its  surrounding  territory  had  been  given  by 
Duke  Richard   II.  to   his   illegitimate   brother 
William.    The  latter  had  three  sons,  of  whom 
Robert,  the  eldest,  succeeded  him  in  the  county, 
Hugh,  the  youngest,  subsequently  becoming  bishop 
of  Lisieux.    The  remaining  brother,  William,  sur- 
named   Busac,   is   a   mysterious   person  whose 
appearance  in  history  is  almost  confined  to  the 
single  narrative  which  we  possess  of  his  revolt. 
The  latter  is  not  free  from  difficulty;  William  was 
not  his  father's  eldest  son,  and  yet  at  the  period  in 
question  he  appears  in  possession  of  the  castle 
of  Eu,  and,  which  is  much  more  remarkable,  he  is 
represented  as  laying  daim  to  the  duchy  of  Nor- 
mandy itself.    At  present  this  is  inexplicable, 
but  it  is  certain  that  the  duke  besieged  and  took 
Eu  and  drove  William  Busac  into  exile.    The  place 
of  refuge  which  he  chose  is  very  suggestive.     He 
went  to  Prance  and  attached  himself  to  King 
Henry,  who  married  him  to  the  heiress  of  the 
county  of  Soissons,  where  his  descendants  were 
ruling  at  the  dose  of  the  century. *    It  is  plain  that 
the  king's  opportunist  policy  has  definitdy  turned 
against  William  of  Normandy,  when  we  find  a 
Norman  rebd  received  with  open  arms  and  given 
an  important  territorial  position  on  the  border  of 
the  royal  demesne.2 

1  WilKain  of  JumiSges,  vii.f  20. 

» The  visit  of  William  to  England  in  1051  will  te  considered 

Rebellion  and  Invasion          101 

The  third  and  last  of  this  series  of  revolts  can 
be  definitely  assigned  to  the  year  1053.  It  arose 
like  the  revolt  of  William  Busac  in  the  land  east  of 
Seine,  and  its  leader  was  again  one  of  the  "  Ricar- 
denses,"  a  member  of  a  collateral  branch  of  the 
ducal  house.  William  count  of  Arques  was  an 
illegitimate  son  of  Duke  Richard  II.,  and  therefore 
brother  by  the  half  blood  to  Duke  Robert  I.,  and 
uncle  to  William  of  Normandy.  With  the  object 
of  conciliating  an  important  member  of  his  family 
the  latter  had  enfeoffed  his  uncle  in  the  county  of 
Arques,  the  district  between  Eu  and  the  Pays  de 
Caux.  Before  long,  however,  relations  between 
the  duke  and  the  count  became  strained;  William 
of  Arques  was  said  to  have  failed  in  his  feudal 
duty  at  the  siege  of  Domfront,  and  when  a  little 
later  he  proceeded  to  fortify  the  capital  of  his 
county  with  a  castle,  it  was  known  that  his  de- 
signs were  not  consonant  with  loyalty  towards  the 
interests  of  his  lord  and  nephew.  In  the  hope  of 
anticipating  further  trouble  the  duke  insisted 
on  his  legal  right  of  garrisoning  the  castle  with 
his  own  troops,  but  the  precaution  proved  to  be 
quite  futile,  for  the  count  soon  won  over  the  garri- 
son, defied  his  nephew,  and  spread  destruction  over 
as  wide  an  area  as  he  could  reach  from  his  base  of 
operations.  At  this  time,  as  at  the  similar  crisis 
of  1047,  William  seems  to  have  been  at  Valognes; 
he  was  certainly  somewhere  in  the  Cotentin 

below,  Chapter  IV.,  in  its  bearing  upon  the  general  question  of 
the  English  succession. 

102          William  the  Conqueror 

when  the  news  of  what  was  happening  at  Arques 
was  brought  to  him. i  Without  a  moment's  delay 
he  rode  off  towards  the  scene  of  the  revolt,  crossing 
the  Dive  estuary  at  the  ford  of  St.  Clement  and 
so  past  Bayeux,  Caen,  and  Pont  Audemer  to  the 
Seine  at  Caudebec,  and  then  to  Baons-le-Comte 
and  Arques,  his  companions  dropping  off  one  by 
one  in  the  course  of  his  headlong  ride  until  only 
six  were  left.  Near  to  Arques,  however,  he  feU 
in  with  a  party  of  three  hundred  horsemen  from 
Rouen,  who  had  set  out  with  the  object  of  pre- 
venting the  men  of  Arques  from  carrying  supplies 
into  the  castle.  William  had  not  yet  outgrown 
the  impetuosity  which  called  forth  King  Henry's 
admonitions  in  the  campaign  of  1048:  he 
insisted  on  delivering  an  instant  attack,  believing 
that  the  rebels  would  shrink  from  meeting  him 
in  person,  and  dashed  on  to  the  castle  regardless 
of  the  remonstrances  of  the  Rouen  men,  who  coun- 
selled discretion.  Charging  up  the  castle  mound 
he  drove  the  count  and  his  men  within  the  fortress 
as  he  had  anticipated,  and  we  are  given  to  tinder- 
stand  that  but  for  their  hastily  shutting  the  gates 
against  him  the  revolt  would  have  been  ended 
then  and  there. 

The  surprise  assault  having  failed,  'nothing  was 
left  but  a  blockade,  and  accordingly  William 
established  a  counterwork  at  the  base  of  the  castle 
and  entrusted  it  to  Walter  Giffard,  lord  of  the 
neighbouring  estate  of  Longueville,  while  he  him- 

»  William  of  Poitiers,  92. 

Rebellion  and  Invasion          103 

self  went  off,  "  being  called  by  other  business,"  as 
his  panegyrist  tells  us.  As  a  matter  of  fact  it  is 
probable  that  he  withdrew  from  a  sense  of  feudal 
propriety, 1  for  no  less  a  person  than  King  Henry 
of  France  was  advancing  to  the  relief  of  the  gar- 
rison. On  all  grounds  it  was  desirable  for  William 
to  refrain  from  setting  a  bad  example  to  his  barons 
by  actually  appearing  in  arms  against  his  own 
overlord,  and  so  the  operations  against  the  king 
were  left  to  the  direction  of  others.  At  the  out- 
set they  were  fortunate.  There  were  still  a  few 
barons  in  the  county  of  Arques  who  had  not  joined 
the  rebels,  and  one  of  them,  Richard  of  Hugleville, 
possessed  a  castle,  a  few  miles  from  Arques  itself, 
at  St.  Aubin,  which  lay  on  the  line  of  march  of 
the  French  king.  Possibly  it  was  this  fact  which 
suggested  to  the  besiegers  the  idea  of  intercepting 
the  king  before  he  reached  Arques;  at  any  rate, 
they  formed  a  plan  of  the  kind,  which  proved 
successful  and  curiously  anticipates  one  of  the 
most  famous  episodes  in  the  greater  battle  of 
Hastings.  The  king,  who  had  been  marching 
carelessly  with  a  convoy  of  provisions  intended 
for  the  garrison  within  Arques,  halted  near  to 
St.  Aubin.  In  the  meantime  the  Normans  be- 
fore Arques  had  sent  out  a  detachment  which 
they  divided  into  two  parts,  the  greater  part 
secreting  itself  not  far  from  St.  Aubin,  while  the 
rest  made  a  feint  attack  on  the  royal  army.  After 
a  short  conflict  the  latter  division  turned  in 
1  This  is  definitely  asserted  by  William  of  Malmesbury. 

104         William  the  Conqueror 

pretended  flight,  drew  out  a  number  of  the  king's 
army  in  pursuit,  and  enticed  them  past  the  place 
where  the  trap  was  laid,  whereupon  the  hidden 
Normans  sallied  out,  fell  on  the  Frenchmen,  and 
annihilated  them,  slaying  Enguerrand,  count  of 
Ponthieu,  and  many  other  men  of  note.     Not- 
withstanding this  check,  the  king  hurried  on  to 
Arques,  and  succeeded  in  throwing  provisions  into 
the  castle,  and  then,  eager  to  avenge  the  disaster 
at  St.  Aubin,  he  made  a  savage  attack  on  the 
counterwork  at  the  foot  of  the  hill.    But   its 
defences  were  strong  and  its  defenders  resolute: 
so  the  king,  to  avoid  further  loss,  beat  a  hasty 
retreat  to  St.  Denis,  and  with  his  withdrawal  Duke 
William  reappeared  upon  the  scene. l    Then  the 
blockade  was  resumed  in  earnest,  and  we  are  told 
that  its  severity  convinced  the  count  of  Arques  of 
his  folly  in  daiming  the  duchy  against  his  lord. 
Repeated  messages  to  King  Henry  begging  for 
relief  found  him  unwilling  to  risk  any  further  loss 
of  prestige,  and  at  last  hunger  did  its  work.    The 
garrison  surrendered,  asking  that  life  and  limb 
might  be  guaranteed  to  them,  but  making  no 
further  stipulation,  and  William  of  Poitiers  glee- 
fully describes  the  ignominious  manner  of  their 
exit  from  the  castle.*    Here,  as  after .  Val-es- 
dunes,  it  was  not  the  duke's  policy,  if  it  lay  in  his 
power,  to  proceed  to  extremities   against   the 
beaten  rebels,  and  William  was  notably  lenient 

»See  on  this  episode,  Round,  Feudal  England,  382-385 
'Page  95. 

Rebellion  and  Invasion          105 

to  his  uncle,  who  was  deprived  of  his  county  and 
his  too-powerful  castle,  but  was  granted  at  the 
same  time  a  large  estate  in  Normandy.  However, 
like  Guy  of  Burgundy,  he  declined  to  live  in  the 
country  over  which  he  had  hoped  to  rule  and  he 
went  into  voluntary  exile  at  the  court  of  Eustace 
of  Boulogne. 

One  outlying  portion  of  the  duchy  remained  in 
revolt  after  the  fall  of  Arques.  On  the  south- 
western border  of  Normandy  the  fortress  of  Mou- 
lins  had  been  betrayed  to  the  king  by  Wimund, 
its  commander,  and  had  received  a  royal  garrison 
under  Guy-Geoffrey,  brother  of  the  duke  of  Aqui- 
taine.  The  importance  of  this  event  lay  in  the 
fact  that  Moulins  in  unfriendly  hands  threatened 
to  cut  off  communications  between  the  Hiesmois 
and  the  half-independent  county  of  Bellfime. 
Fortunately  for  the  integrity  of  the  duchy,  the 
fate  of  Moulins  was  determined  by  the  surrender 
of  Arques;  the  garrison  gave  up  their  cause  as 
hopeless,  and  retired  without  attempting  to  stand 
a  siege.1 

At  some  indefinite  point  in  the  short  interval 
of  peace  which  followed  the  revolt  of  William  of 
Arques,  William  of  Normandy  was  married  to 
Matilda,  daughter  of  Baldwin  count  of  Flanders, 
in  the  minster  at  Eu.  On  William's  part  the 
consummation  of  the  marriage  was  an  act  of 
simple  lawlessness  noteworthy  in  so  faithful 
a  son  of  Holy  Church,  for  in  1049  the  General 

i  William  of  JumiSges,  vii.,  7. 

io6          William  the  Conqueror 

Council  of  Rheims  had  solemnly  forbidden  Count 
Baldwin  to  give  his  daughter  to  William  of  Nor- 
mandy, and  had  simultaneously  inhibited  William 
from  receiving  her. 1  A  mystery  which  has  not 
been,  wholly  solved  hangs  over  the  motives 
which  underlay  this  prohibition;  for  genealogical 
research  has  hitherto  failed  to  discover  any  tie 
of  affinity  which  might  furnish  an  impediment, 
reasonable  or  otherwise,  to  the  proposed  marriage, 
while  at  the  middle  of  the  eleventh  century  the 
provisions  of  the  canon  law  on  the  subject  of 
the  prohibited  degrees  were  much  less  rigid  and 
fantastic  than  they  subsequently  became.  Yet 
the  decree  is  duly  entered  among  the  canons  of 
the  Council  of  Rheims,  and  it  served  to  keep 
William  and  his  chosen  bride  apart  for  four  years. 
Early  in  1053,  however,  Pope  Leo  IX.  had  been 
taken  prisoner  by  the  Normans  in  Italy  at  the 
battle  of  Aversa,  and  the  coincidence  of  his  cap- 
tivity with  William's  defiance  of  the  papal  cen- 
sure has  not  escaped  the  notice  of  historians.2 
By  all  churchmen  of  the  stricter  sort  a  marriage 
celebrated  under  such  conditions  was  certain  to 
be  regarded  as  a  scandal.  Normandy  was  laid 
under  an  interdict,  and  in  the  duchy  itself  the 
opposition  was  headed  by  two  men  of  very 
different  character.  .Malger,  the  archbishop  of 
Rouen  at  the  time,  was  a  brother  of  the  fallen 
count  of  Arques,  and  the  excommunication  which 

1  Labbb  Concilia,  xi.,  1412. 

2  For  example,  Freeman, -N.  C.,  iii.,  92. 

Rebellion  and  Invasion          107 

he  pronounced  against  his  erring  nephews  was 
probably  occasioned  as  much  by  the  political 
grievances  of  his  family  as  by  righteous  indigna- 
tion at  the  despite  done  to  the  Council  of  Rheims. 
William  speedily  came  to  an  understanding  with 
the  Pope  by  means  of  which  he  was  enabled  to 
remove  Malger  from  his  archbishopric,  but  the 
marriage  was  also  condemned  by  the  man  who 
both  before  and  after  that  event  held  above  all 
others  the  place  of  the  duke's  familiar  friend. 
The  career  of  Lanfranc  of  Pavia,  at  this  moment 
prior  of  Bee,  will  be  more  fittingly  considered 
elsewhere,  but  his  opposition  to  William's  mar- 
riage was  especially  significant  because  of  his 
great  legal  knowledge  and  the  disinterestedness 
of  his  motives,  and  the  uncompromising  attitude 
of  his  most  intimate  counsellor  cut  the  duke  to 
the  quick.  In  the  outburst  of  his  anger  William 
savagely  ordered  that  the  lands  of  the  monastery 
of  Bee  should  be  harried,  and  that  Lanfranc  him- 
self should  instantly  depart  from  Normandy.  A 
chance  meeting  between  the  duke  and  the  prior 
led  to  a  reconciliation,  and  Lanfranc  was  there- 
upon employed  to  negotiate  with  the  papal  court 
for  a  recognition  of  the  validity  of  the  marriage. 
Nevertheless  five  years  passed  .  before  Pope 
Nicholas  II.  in  1039  granted  the  necessary  dispen- 
sation, accompanied  by  an  injunction  that  William 
and  his  wife  should  each  build  and  endow  a 
monastery  by  way  of  penance  for  their  dis- 
obedience; and  the  reasons  for  this  long  delay  are 

io8         William  the  Conqueror 

almost  as  difficult  to  understand  as  are  the  grounds 
for  the  original  prohibition  in  1049.  But  it  is 
probable  that  William,  having  once  taken  the 
law  into  his  own  hands  and  gained  possession  of 
his  bride,  was  well  content  that  the  progress  of  his 
suit  at  Rome  should  drag  its  slow  length  along, 
trusting  that  time  and  the  chances  of  diplomatic 
expediency  might  soften  the  rigours  of  the  canon 
law,  and  bring  the  papal  curia  to  acquiescence  in 
the  accomplished  fact. 

The  county  of  Flanders,  with  which  Normandy 
at  this  time  became  intimately  connected,  held  a 
unique  position  among  the  feudal  states  of  the 
north.    Part  only  of  the  wide  territory  ruled  by 
Baldwin  IV.  owed  feudal  service  to  the  king  of 
France,  for  the  eastern  portion  of  the  county  was 
an  imperial  fief,  and  the  fact  of  his  divided  alle- 
giance enabled  the  count  of  Flanders  to  play  the 
part  of  an  international  power.    By  contemporary 
writers  Count  Baldwin  is  occasionally  graced  with 
the  higher  title  of  Marquis,  *  and  the  designation 
well  ^  befitted  the  man  who  ruled  the  wealthiest 
portion  of  the  borderland  between  the  French 
kingdom  and  the  German  empire.    The  constant 
jealousy  of  his  two  overlords  secured  him  in  prac- 
tical independence,  and  in  material  resources  it 
is  probable  that  no  prince  between  the  English 
Channel  and  the  Alps  could  compete  with  the 
lord  of  Bruges  and  Ghent;  for  the  great  cities 

'  Count  Baldwin  III.  assumed  the  title  of  Mai-quis  on  the 
coins  which  he  issued. 

Rebellion  and  Invasion          109 

of  Flanders  were  already  developing  the  wealth 
and  commercial  influence  which  in  the  next  gen- 
eration were  to  give  them  the  lead  in  the  move- 
ment for  communal  independence.  For  some 
thirty  years  we  find  Baldwin  cultivating  the 
friendship  of  England,  as  became  a  ruler  whose 
subjects  were  already  finding  their  markets  in 
English  ports;  and  as  the  political  situation  un- 
folded itself,  the  part  he  chose  to  take  in  the  strife 
of  parties  across  the  Channel  became  a  matter  of 
increasing  concern  for  English  statesmen.  "  Bald- 
win's land,"  as  the  English  chronicler  terms  it, 
was  the  customary  resort  of  political  exiles  from 
England,  and  in  1066  it  was  the  attitude  of  the 
count  of  Flanders  which,  as  we  shall  see,  really 
turned  the  scale  in  favour  of  William  of  Normandy. 
At  the  early  date  with  which  we  are  dealing  no 
one  could  have  foreseen  that  this  would  be  so,  but 
'  the  value  of  a  Flemish  alliance  was  already  recog- 
nised in  England  by  the  aggressive  house  with 
which  William  was  at  last  to  come  into  deadly 
conflict.  In  1051,  Tosig,  son  of  Earl  Godwine  of 
Wessex,  wedded  Judith,  Count  Baldwin's  sister,1 
and  this  fact  inevitably  gave  a  political  complexion 
to  William's  marriage  to  Matilda,  two  years  later. 
Godwine,  as  leader  of  the  English  nationalists, 
and  William  as  ultimate  supporter  of  the  Normans 
in  England,  were  each  interested  to  secure  the 
alliance  of  a  power  which  might  intervene  with 
decisive  effect  on  either  side  and  could  not  be 

i  Vita  Eadwardi  (R.S.),  4°4- 

no         William  the  Conqueror 

expected  to  preserve  strict  neutrality  in  the  event 
of  war.  William  was  too  shrewd  a  statesman  to 
ignore  these  facts;  yet  after  all  he  probably  re- 
garded his  marriage  rather  as  the  gratification  of 
a  personal  desire  than  as  a  diplomatic  victory. 

Long  before  the  political  results  of  William's 
marriage  had  matured  themselves,  the  relations 
between  the  duke  of  Normandy  and  the  king  of 
France  had  entered  upon  a  new  phase.    The  event 
of  the  war  of  1053  had  shewn  that  it  was  eminently 
in  the  interests  of  the  French  monarchy  that  the 
growth  of  the  Norman  power  should  be  checked 
before  it  could  proceed  to  actual  encroachment 
on  the  royal  demesne;  and  also  that  if  this  were 
to  be  accomplished  it  would  no  longer  suffice  for 
King  Henry  to  content  himself  with  giving  support 
to  casual  Norman  factions  in  arms  against  their 
lawful  ruler.    This  plan  had  led  to  ignominious 
failure,  and  it  was  clear  that  in  future  it  would  be 
necessary  for  King  Henry  to  appear  as  a  principal 
in  the  war  and  test  whether  the  Norman  duke 
was  strong  enough  to  withstand  the  direct  attack 
of  his  suzerain.    These  considerations  produced 
a  phenomenon  rarely  seen  at  this  date,  for  the 
king  proceeded   to   collect  an  anny  in  which, 
through  the  rhetoric  in  which  our  one  contem- 
porary writer  veils  its  composition,   we  must 
recognise  nothing  less  than  the  entire  feudal  levy 
of  all  France.    So  rarely  does  French  feudalism 
combine  to  place  its  military  resources  at  the 
disposal  of  its  sovereign  that  the  fact,  on  this 

Rebellion  and  Invasion          m 

occasion  is  good  evidence  of  the  current  opinion 
as  to  the  strength  of  Normandy  under  its  mas- 
terful duke.  In  the  war  which  followed,  the 
territorial  principles  which  found  their  fullest  ex- 
pression in  the  policy  of  the  dukes  of  Normandy 
gained  a  signal  victory  over  incoherent  feudalism 
represented  by  the  king  of  Prance  at  the  head  of 
the  gathered  forces  of  his  heterogeneous  vassals. 
Not  until  successive  kings  had  reduced  the  royal- 
demesne  to  such  unity  as  had  already  been  reached 
by  Normandy  in  the  eleventh  century,  could  the 
French  crown  attempt  successful  aggressive  war. 
In  addition  to  their  feudal  duty,  certain  of  the 
king's  associates  in  the  forthcoming  campaign 
had  their  individual  reasons  for  joining  in  an  attack 
on  Normandy.  The  ducal  house  of  Aquitaine 
would  naturally  be  attracted  into  the  quarrel  by 
the  failure  of  Guy-Geoffrey  to  hold  Moulins  in 
the  late  war;  Guy  of  Ponthieu  had  to  avenge 
his  brother's  death  at  St.  Aubin.  Little  as  the 
several  feudal  princes  of  France  may  have  loved 
their  suzerain,  their  jealousy  would  readily  be 
roused  by  the  exceptional  power  of  one  of  their 
own  number,  and  the  king  seems  to  have  found 
little  difficulty  in  collecting  forces  from  every 
corner  of  his  realm.  From  the  Midi  the  counts 
of  Poitou  and  Auvergne  and  the  half-autonomous 
dukes  of  Aquitaine  and  Gascony  sent  contingents; 
north  of  the  Loire,  every  state  from  Brittany  to 
the  duchy  of  Burgundy  was  represented  in  the 
royal  army  with  one  singular  exception.  What- 

ii2          William  the  Conqueror 

ever  the  reason  of  his  absence,  Geoffrey  Martel, 
William's  most  formidable  rival,  does  not  appear 
in  the  list  of  the  king's  associates  as  given  by 
William  of  Poitiers.  *  This  may  be  due  to  a  mere 
oversight  on  the  latter's  part,  or  more  probably 
it  may  be  that  Geoffrey  was  too  independent  to1 
take  part  in  an  expedition  which,  although  di- 
rected against  his  personal  enemy,  was  commanded 
by  his  feudal  lord.  But  with  or  without  his  aid 
the  army  which  obeyed  the  king's  summons  was 
to  all  seeming  overwhelmingly  superior  to  any 
force  which  the  duke  of  Normandy  could  put  into 
the  field. 

With  so  great  an  army  at  his  disposal,  the 
king  could  well  afford  to  divide  his  forces  and 
make  a  simultaneous  invasion  of  Normandy  at  two 
different  points.  The  lower  course  of  the  Seine 
supplied  a  natural  line  of  demarcation  between 
the  spheres  of  operation  of  the  two  invading  ar- 
mies, and  accordingly  the  royal  host  mustered  in 
two  divisions,  one  assembling  in  the  Beauvoisis 
to  ravage  the  Pays  de  Caux,  the  other  assem- 
bling at  Mantes,  and  directed  at  the  territory  of 

i  Page  97.  On  this  question  there  is  a  conflict  of  evidence 
William  of  Jumidges,  whose  authority  is  only  second  to  that 
of  William  of  Poitiers,  definitely  asserts  Geoffrey's  partici- 
pation in  the  campaign.  See  Halphen,  Contt  d'Anjou,  77. 
On  the  other  hand,  although  the  argument  from  the  silence 
of  William  of  Poitiers  should  not  be  pressed  too  far,  the 
terms  of  the  treaty  of  1053  (see  below)  certainly  suggest 
that  the  king  held  Geoffrey  guilty  of  a  breach  of  feudal  duty, 
and  later  writers,  such  as  Orderic,  cannot  be  trusted  im- 
plicitly in  regard  to  the  detailed  history  of  this  period. 

Rebellion  and  Invasion          113 

Evreux,  Rouen,  and  Lisieux.  The  first,  division 
was  drawn  from  those  lands  between  the  Rhine 
and  the  Seine,  which  owed  allegiance  to  the 
French  crown,  and  was  placed  under  the  com- 
mand of  Odo  the  king's  brother  and  Reginald  of 
Clermont.  The  army  which  gathered  at  Mantes 
comprised  the  Aquitanian  contingent,  together 
with  troops  drawn  from  the  loyal  provinces  north 
of  Loire  and  west  of  Seine,  and  was  led  by  the 
king  in  person.  The  general  plan  of  campaign  is 
thus  intelligible  enough,  but  its  ultimate  purpose 
is  not  so  dear,  perhaps  because  the  king  himself 
had  formed  no  plans  other  than  those  which  re- 
lated to  the  actual  conduct  of  the  war.  On  his 
part  William  formed  a  scheme  of  defence  cor- 
responding to  his  enemies'  plan  of  attack.  He 
took  the  field  in  person  with  the  men  of  the  Bessin, 
Cotentin,  Avranchin,  Auge,  and  Hiesmois,  the 
districts,  that  is,  which  were  threatened  by  the 
king  and  his  southern  army,  entrusting  the  de- 
fence of  the  Pays  de  Caux  to  leaders  chosen  on 
account  of  their  local  influence,  Count  Robert  of 
Eu,  Hugh  of  Grournai,  Hugh  de  Montfort,  Walter 
Giffard,  and  Gilbert  Crispin,  the  last  a  great  land- 
owner in  the  Vexin.  William's  object  was  to 
play  a  purely  defensive  game,  a  decision  which 
was  wise  as  it  threw  upon  the  king  and  his 
brother  the  task  of  provisioning  and  keeping 
together  their  unwieldly  armies  in  hostile 'territory. 
The  invading  force  moved  across  the  country, 
laying  it  waste  afjter  the  ordinary  fashion  of  feudal 

ii4          William  the  Conqueror 

warfare,  William  hanging  on  the  flank  and  rear 
of  the  king's  army,  cutting  off  stragglers  and 
foraging  parties  and  anticipating  the  inevitable 
devastation  of  the  land  by  removing  all  provisions 
from  the  king's  line  of  advance.    The  king  had 
penetrated  as  far  as  the  county  of  Brionne  when 
disaster  fell  on  the  allied  army  across  the  Seine. 
Thinking  that  William  was  retiring  in  front  of  the 
king's  march  the  leaders  of  the  eastern  host  ig- 
nored the  local  force  opposed  to  themselves  in  the 
belief,  we  are  told,  that  all  the  knights  of  Nor- 
mandy were  accompanying  the  duke.     But  the 
count  of  Eu  and  his  fellow-officers  were  deliber- 
ately reserving  their  blow  until  the  whole  of  their 
army  had  drawn  together,  and  the  French  met  lit- 
tle opposition  until  they  had  come  to  the  town  of 
Mortemer,  which  they  occupied  and  used  as  their 
headquarters  while  they  ravaged  the  neighbour- 
hood in  detail  at  their  leisure.    Spending  the  day 
in  plunder  they  kept  bad  watch  at  night,  and  this 
fact  induced  the  Norman  leaders  to  try  the  effect 
of  a  surprise.    Finding  out  the  disposition  of  the 
French  force  through  spies,  they  moved  up  to 
Mortemer  by  night  and   surrounded  it  before 
daybreak,  posting  guards  so  as  to  command  all 
the  exits  from  the  town;  and  the  first  intimation 
which  the  invaders  received  of  their  danger  was 
the  firing  of  the  place  over  their  heads  by  the 
Normans.    Then  followed  a  scene  of  wild  con- 
fusion.   In  the  dim  light  of  the  wintry  dawn  the 
panic-struck  Frenchmen  instinctively  made  for 

Rebellion  and  Invasion          115 

the  roads  which  led  out  of  the  town,  only  to  be 
driven  in  again  by  the  Normans  stationed  at  these 
points.  Some  of  course  escaped;  Odo  the  king's 
brother  and  Reginald  of  Clermont  got  clear  early 
in  the  day,  but  for  some  hours  the  mass  of  the 
French  army  was  steadily  being  compressed  into 
the  middle  of  the  burning  town.  The  Frenchmen 
must  have  made  a  brave  defence,  but  they  had 
no  chance  and  perished  wholesale,  with  the  ex- 
ception of  such  men  of  high  rank  as  were  worth 
reserving  for  their  ransoms.  Among  these  last 
was  Count  Guy  of  Ponthieu,  whose  brother  Wal- 
eran  perished  in  the  struggle,  and  who  was  him- 
self kept  for  two  years  as  a  prisoner  at  Bayeux 
before  he  bought  his  Eberty  by  acknowledging 
himself  to  be  William's  "  man."  The  victory  was 
unqualified,  and  William  knew  how  to  turn  it  to 
fullest  account. 

He  received  the  news  on  the  night  following 
the  battle,  and  instantly  formed  a  plan,  which, 
even  when  described  by  his  contemporary  bio- 
grapher, reads  like  a  romance.  As  soon  as  he 
knew  the  result  of  the  conflict  he  summoned  one 
of  his  men  and  instructed  him  to  go  to  the  French 
camp  and  bring  to  the  king  himself  the  news  of 
his  defeat.  The  man  fulfilled  his  directions,  went 
off,  climbed  a  high  tree  dose  to  the  king's  tent, 
and  with  a  mighty  voice  proclaimed  the  event 
of  the  battle.  The  king,  awakened  by  these 
tidings  of  disaster  from  the  air,  was  struck  with 
terror,  and,  without  waiting  for  the  dawn,  broke 

n6          William  the  Conqueror 

up  his  camp,  and  made  with  what  haste  he  might 
for  the  Norman  border.    William,  seeing  that  his 
main  purpose  was  in  a  fair  way  of  achievement, 
refrained  from  harassing  the  king's  disorderly 
retreat;  the  French  were  anxious  to  end  so  un- 
lucky a  campaign,  and  peace  was  soon  made. 
According  to  the  treaty  the  prisoners  taken  at 
Mortemer  were  to  be  released  on  payment  of  their 
ransoms,  while  the  king  promised   to  confirm 
William  in  the  possession  of  whatever  conquests 
he  had  made,  or  should  thereafter  make,  from  the 
territory   of   Geoffrey   of   Anjou.1    Herein,    no 
doubt  King  Henry  in  part  was  constrained  by 
necessity,  but  in  view  of   his  defeat  it  was  not 
inappropriate  that  he  should  make  peace  for  him- 
self at  the  expense  of  the  one  great  vassal  who 
had  neglected  to  obey  the  summons  to  his  army.2 
And  it  should  be  noted  that  William,  though  he 
has  the  French  king  at  so  great  a  disadvantage, 
nevertheless  regards  the  latter's  consent  to  his 
territorial  acquisitions  as  an  object  worth  stipu- 
lation; King  Henry,  to  whatever  straits  he  might 
be  reduced,  was  still  his  overlord,  and  could  alone 
give  legal  sanction  to  the  conquests  made  by  his 
vassals  within  the  borders  of  his  kingdom. 

It  would,  however,  be  a  mistake  to  regard  this 
treaty  as  marking  a  return  to  the  state  of  affairs 
which  prevailed  in  1048,  when  the  king  and  the 
duke  of  Normandy  were  united  against  the  count 
of  Anjou  in  the  war  which  ended  with  the  capture 

*  William  of  Poitiers,  99.  a  See  note,  page  90  above. 

Rebellion  and  Invasion          117 

of  Alengon.  The  peace  of  1054  was  little  more 
than  a  suspension  of  hostilities,  each  party  mis- 
trusting the  other.  The  first  care  of  the  duke, 
now  that  his  hands  were  free,  was  to  strengthen 
his  position  against  his  overlord,  and  one  of  the 
border  fortresses  erected  at  this  time  was  acci- 
dentally to  become  a  name  of  note  in  the  municipal 
history  of  England.  Over  against  Tilli&res,  the 
border  post  which  King  Henry  had  taken  from 
Normandy  in  the  stormy  times  of  William's  mi- 
nority, the  duke  now  founded  the  castle  of  Bre- 
teuil,  and  entrusted  it  to  William  fitz  Osbern,  his 
companion  in  the  war  of  Domfront.  *  Under  the 
protection  of  the  castle,  by  a  process  which  was 
extremely  common  in  French  history,  a  group  of 
merchants  came  to  found  a  trading  community 
or  baurg.  The  burgesses  of  Breteuil,  however, 
received  special  privileges  from  William  fitz  Osbern 
and  when  he,  their  lord,  became  earl  of  Hereford 
these  privileges  were  extended  to  not  a  few  of 
the  rising  towns  along  the  Welsh  border.  The 
"laws  of  Breteuil,"  which  are  mentioned  by  name 
in  Domesday  Book,  and  were  regarded  as  a  model 
municipal  constitution  for  two  centuries  after  the 
conquest  of  England,  thus  take  their  origin  from 
the  rights  of  the  buigesses  who  clustered  round 
William's  border  fortress  on  the  Iton.* 
Another  castle  built  at  this  time  was  Definitely 

*  William  of  JumiSges,  vii.,  25. 
.  2  See  The  Laws  of  Breteuil,  by  Miss  M.  Bateson,  Eng.  Hist. 

n8         William  the  Conqueror 

intended  to  mark  the  reopening  of  hostilities 
against  the  couut  of  Anjou.    At  Ambri&res,  near 
the  confluence  of  the  Mayenne  and  the  Varenne, 
William   selected   a   position   of    great   natural 
strength  for  the  site  of  a  castle  which  should  com- 
mand one  of  the  chief  lines  of  entry  from  Nor- 
mandy into  the  county  of  Maine.    The  significance 
of  this  will  be  seen  in  the  next  chapter,  and  for 
the  present  we  need  only  remark  that  in  1051, 
on  the  death  of  Count  Hugh  IV.,  Geoffrey  Martel, 
by  a  brilliant  coup  d'&at  had  secured  his  recognition 
by  the  Manceaux  as  their  immediate  lord,  and 
was  therefore  at  the  present  moment  the  direct 
ruler  of  the  whole  county.    On  the  other  hand, 
the  widow  of  the  late  count  had  sought  refuge  at 
William's  court,  and  her  son  Herbert,  the  last 
male  of  the  old  line  of  the  counts  of  Maine,  had 
commended  himself  and  his  territory  to  the  Nor- 
man duke.    For  three  years,  therefore,  William 
had  possessed  a  good  legal  pretext  for  interference 
in  the  internal  affairs  of  Maine;  and  but  for  the 
unquiet  state  of  Normandy  during  this  time,  fol- 
lowed by  the  recent  French  invasion,  it  is  probable 
that  he  would  long  ago  have  challenged  his  rival's 
possession  of  the  territory  which  lay  between 
them.    That  the  foundation  of  the  castle  of  Am- 
briferes  was  regarded  as  something  more  than  a 
mere  casual  acquisition  on  William's  part,  is  shewn 
by  the  action  of  Geoffrey  of  Mayenne,  one  of  the 
chief  barons  of  the  county  of  Maine,  on  hearing 
the  news  of  its  intended  fortification.    With  the 

Rebellion  and  Invasion          119 

punctiliousness  which  distinguishes  all  William's 
dealings  with  Geoffrey  Martel,  William  had  sent 
word  to  the  count  of  Anjou  that  within  forty 
days  he  would  enter  the  county  of  Maine  and 
take  possession  of  Ambriferes.  Geoffrey  of  May- 
enne,  whose  fief  lay  along  the  river  Mayenne 
between  Ambriferes  and  Anjou,  thereupon  went  to 
his  lord  and  explained  to  him  that  if  Ambriferes 
once  became  a  Norman  fortress  his  own  lands 
would  never  be  safe  from  invasion.  He  received  a 
reassuring  answer;  nevertheless,  on  the  appointed 
day,  William  invaded  Maine  and  set  to  work  on  the 
castle  according  to  his  declaration;  and,  although 
rumour  had  it  that  Geoffrey  Martel  would  shortly 
meet  him,  the  days  passed  without  any  sign  of 
his  appearance.  In  the  meantime,  however,  the 
Norman  supplies  began  to  run  short,  so  that 
William  thought  it  the  safest  plan  to  dismiss 
the  force  which  he  had  in  the  field,  and  to  content 
himself  with  garrisoning  and  provisioning  Am- 
briferes,  leaving  orders  that  his  men  should  hold 
themselves  in  readiness  to  reassemble  immediately 
on  receiving  notice  from  him.  Geoffrey  Martel, 
who  had  probably  been  counting  on  some  action 
of  the  kind,  at  once  seized  his  opportunity,  and, 
as  soon  as  he  heard  that  the  Norman  army  had 
broken  up,  he  marched  on  Ambriferes,  having 
as  ally  his  stepson  William,  duke  of  Aqtii- 
taine,  and  fion,  count  of  Penthievre,  the  unde 
of  the  reigning  duke  of  Brittany.  With  William 
still  in  the  neighbourhood  and  likely  to  return  at 

120         William  the  Conqueror 

any  moment,  it  was  no  time  fora  leisurely  invest- 
ment, so  Geoffrey  made  great  play  with  his  siege 
engines,  and  came  near  to  taking  the  place  by 
storm.  His  attack  failed,  however,  and  William, 
drawing  his  army  together  again,  as  had  been 
arranged,  compelled  the  count  to  beat  a  hasty  re- 
treat. Shortly  afterwards  Geoffrey  of  Mayenne 
was  taken  prisoner;  and  William,  with  a  view  to 
further  enterprises  in  Maine,  seeing  the  advantage 
of  placing  a  powerful  feudatory  of  that  county 
in  a  position  of  technical  dependence  upon  him- 
self, kept  him  in  Normandy  until  he  consented  to 
do  homage  to  his  captor.1  It  is  also  probable  that 
on  this  occasion  William  still  further  strengthened 
his  position  with  regard  to  Maine  by  founding  on 
the  Sarthon  the  castle  of  Roche-Mabille,  which 
castle  was  entrusted  to  Roger  of  Montgomery,  and 
derives  its  name  from  Mabel,  the  heiress  of  the 
county  of  Bellfime,  and  the  wife  of  the  castellan. 
Three  years  of  quiet  followed  these  events, 
about  which,  as  is  customary  with  regard  to  such 
seasons,  our  authorities  have  little  to  relate  to  us. 
In  1058  came  the  third  and  last  invasion  of  Nor- 
mandy by  King  Henry  of  France,  with  whom  was 
associated  once  more  Count  Geoffrey  of  Anjou. 
No  definite  provocation  seems  to  have  been  given 
by  William  for  the  attack,  but  in  the  interests  of 
the  French  crown  it  was  needful  now  as  it  had 
been  in  1053  to  strike  a  blow  at  this  over-mighty 
vassal,  and  the  king  was  anxious  to  take  his 

*  Waiiam  of  Poitiers,  99,  100. 

Rebellion  and  Invasion          121 

revenge  for  the  ignominious  defeat  he  had  sustained 
in  the  former  year.  Less  formidable  in  appearance 
than  the  huge  army  which  had  obeyed  the  king's 
summons  in  the  former  year,  the  invading  force 
of  1058  was  so  far  successful  that  it  penetrated 
into  the  very  heart  of  the  duch}',  while,  on  the 
other  hand,  the  disaster  which  closed  the  war 
was  something  much  more  dramatic  in  its  circum- 
stances and  crushing  in  its  results  than  the  day- 
break surprise  of  Mortemer.  This  expedition  is 
also  distinguished  from  its  forerunner  by  the  fact 
that  the  long  does  not  seem  to  have  aimed  at  the 
conquest  or  partition  of  Normandy:  the  invasion 
of  1058  was  little  more  than  a  plunder  raid  on  a 
large  scale,  intended  to  teach  the  independent 
Normans  that  in  spite  of  his  previous  failures  their 
suzerain  was  still  a  person  to  be  feared.  The 
king's  plan  was  to  enter  Normandy  through  the 
Hiesmois;  to  cross  the  Bessin  as  far  as  the  estuary 
of  the  Dive  and  to  return  after  ravaging  Auge  and 
the  district  of  Lisieux.  Now,  as  five  years  pre- 
viously, William  chose  to  stand  on  the  defensive; 
he  put  his  castles  into  a  state  of  siege  and  retired 
to  watch  the  king's  proceedings  from  Palaise. 
It  was  evidently  no  part  of  the  king's  purpose  to 
attempt  the  detailed  reduction  of  all  the  scattered 
fortresses  belonging  to,  or  held  on  behalf  of,  the 
duke1;  and  this  being  the  case  it  was  best  for 

iJn  a  charter  abstracted  by  Round,  Calendar  of  Documents 
Preserved  in  France,  No.  1256,  there  is  a  reference  to  a 
knight  named  Richard  who  was  seized  by  mortal  illness  while 

122          William  the  Conqueror 

William  to  bide  his  time,  knowing  that  if  he  could 
possess  his  soul  in  patience  while  the  king  laid 
waste  his  land,  the  trouble  would  eventually  pass 
away  of  its  own  accord.  And  so  King  Henry 
worked  his  will  on  the  unlucky  lands  of  the  Hies- 
mois  and  the  Bessin  as  far  as  the  river  Settle,  at 
which  point  he  turned,  crossed  the  Olne  at  Caen, 
and  prepared  to  return  to  France  by  way  of  Vara- 
ville  and  Lisieux.  William  in  the  meantime  was 
following  in  the  track  of  the  invading  army.  The 
small  body  of  men  by  which  he  must  have  been 
accompanied  proves  that  he  had  no  thought  of 
coming  to  any  general  engagement  at  the  time, 
but  suddenly  the  possibilities  of  the  situation  seem 
to  have  occurred  to  him,  and  he  hastily  summoned 
the  peasantry  of  the  neighbourhood  to  coine  in 
to  him  armed  as  they  were.  With, the  makeshift 
force  thus  provided  he  pressed  on  down  the  valley 
of  the  Bavent  after  the  king,  who  seems  to  have 
been  quite  unaware  of  his  proximity,  and  caine  out 
at  Varaville  at  the  very  moment  when  the  French 
army  was  fully  occupied  with  the  passage  of  the 
Dive.  The  king  had  crossed  the  river  with  his  * 
vanguard  l\  his  rearguard  and  baggage  train  had 
yet  to  follow.  Seizing  the  opportunity,  which  he 
had  probably  anticipated,  William  flung  himself 
upon  the  portion  of  the  royal  army  which  was 

defending  the  frontier  post  of  Chdteatuaeuf-en-Thiinerais  in 
this  campaign. 

'William   of  Poitiers,    101.    Wace   gives  topographical 

Rebellion  and  Invasion          123 

still  on  his  side  of  the  river  and  at  once  threw  it 
into  confusion.  The  Frenchmen  who  had  already 
passed  the  ford  and  were  climbing  up  the  high 
ground  of  Bastebourg  to  the  right  of  the  river, 
seeing  the  plight  of  their  comrades,  turned  and 
sought  to  recross;  but  the  causeway  across  the 
river  mouth  was  old  and  unsafe  and  the  tide  was 
beginning  to  turn.  Soon  the  passage  of  the  river 
became  impossible,  the  battle  became  a  mere 
slaughter,  and  the  Norman  poet  of  the  next  cen- 
tury describes  for  us  the  old  king  standing  on  the 
hill  above  the  Dive  and  quivering  with  impotent 
passion  as  he  watched  his  troops  being  cut  to 
pieces  by  the  rustic  soldiery  of  his  former  ward. 
The  struggle  cannot  have  taken  long;  the  rush  of 
the  incoming  tide  made  swimming  fatal,  and  the 
destruction  of  the  rearguard  was  complete.  With 
but  half  an  army  left  to  him  it  was  hopeless  for 
the  king  to  attempt  to  avenge  the  annihilation  of 
the  other  half;  he  had  no  course  but  to  retrace  his 
steps  and  make  the  best  terms  he  could  with  his 
victorious  vassal.  These  terms  were  very  simple 
—William  merely  demanded  the  surrender  of  Til- 
liferes,  the  long-disputed  key  of  the  Arve  valley.1 
With  its  recovery,  the  tale  of  the  border  fortresses 
of  Normandy  was  complete;  the  duchy  had  amply 
vindicated  its  right  to  independence,  and  was  now 
prepared  for  aggression. 
Thus  by  the  end  of  1058  King  Henry  had  been 

* William  of  Jumi^ges,  vii.,  38.    The  battle  of  Varaville 
led  to  the  king's  retreat,  but  a  sporadic  war  lasted  till  1060. 

124         William  the  Conqueror 

definitely  baffled  in  all  his  successive  schemes  for 
the  reduction  of  Normandy.  With  our  know- 
ledge of  the  event,  our  sympathies  are  naturally 
and  not  unfairly  on  the  side  of  Duke  William,  but 
they  should  not  blind  us  to  the  courage  and  per- 
sistency with  which  the  king  continued  to  face  the 
problems  of  his  difficult  situation.  In  every  way, 
of  course,  the  weakest  of  the  early  Capetians  suffers 
by  comparison  with  the  greatest  of  all  the  dukes 
of  Normandy.  The  almost  ludicrous  dispro- 
portion between  the  king's  legal  position  and  his 
territorial  power,  his  halting,  inconsistent  policy, 
and  the  ease  with  which  his  best-laid  plans  were 
turned  to  his  discomfiture  by  a  vassal  who  studi- 
ously refrained  from  meeting  him  in  battle,  all 
make  us  inclined  to  agree  with  William's  panegy- 
rical biographer  as  he  contemptuously  dismisses 
his  overlord  from  the  field  of  Varaville.  And  yet 
the  wonder  is  that  the  king  should  have  main- 
tained the  struggle  for  so  long  with  the  wretched 
resources  at  his  disposal.  With  a  demesne  far 
less  in  area  than  Normandy  alone,  surrounded  by 
the  possessions  of  aggressive  feudatories  and  itself 
studded  with  the  castles  of  a  restive  nobility, 
the  monarchy  depended  for  existence  on  the 
mutual  jealousy  of  the  great  lords  of  France  and 
on  such  vague,  though  not  of  necessity  unreal, 
respect  as  they  were  prepared  to  show  to  the  suc- 
cessor of  Charlemagne.  The  Norman  wars  of 

It  is  probable  that  Norman  chroniclers  have  attached  more 
importance  to  the  battle  than  it  really  possessed. 

Rebellion  and  Invasion         125 

Henry  I.  illustrated  once  for  all  the  impotence 
of  the  monarchy  under  such  conditions,  and  the 
kings  who  followed  him  bowed  to  the  limitations 
imposed  by  their  position.  Philip  I.  and  Louis  VL 
were  each  in  general  content  that  the  monarchy 
should  act  merely  as  a  single  unit  among  the 
territorial  powers  into  which  the  feudal  world  of 
France  was  divided,  satisfied  if  they  could  reduce 
their  own  demesne  to  reasonable  obedience  and 
maintain  a  certain  measure  of  diplomatic  influence 
outside.  Accordingly  from  this  point  a  change 
begins  to  come  over  the  relations  between  Nor- 
mandy and  France;  neither  side  aims  at  the  sub- 
jugation of  the  other,  but  each  watches  for  such 
advantages  as  chance  or  the  shifting  feudal  com- 
binations of  the  time  may  present.  Within  a 
decade  from  the  battle  of  Varaville  the  duke  of 
Normandy  had  become  master  of  Maine  and 
England,  but  in  these  great  events  the  French 
crown  plays  no  part. 

Denier  of  Henry  I.  of  France 



BY  a  curious  synchronism  both  King  Henry  of 
France  and  Count  Geoffrey  Martel  died  in 
the  course  of  the  year  1060;  and,  with  the  disap- 
pearance of  his  two  chief  enemies  of  the  older 
generation,  the  way  was  clear  for  William  to  at- 
tempt a  more  independent  course  of  action  than 
he  had  hitherto  essayed.  Up  to  this  year  his 
policy  had  in  great  measure  been  governed  by 
the  movements  of  his  overlord  and  the  count 
of  Anjou,  both  of  them  men  who  were  playing 
their  part  in  the  political  affairs  of  France  at  the 
time  when  he  himself  was  born.  From,  this  date 
he  becomes  the  definite  master  of  his  own.  fortunes, 
and  the  circumstances  in  which  the  king  and  the 
count  left  their  respective  territories  removed  any 
check  to  his  enterprise  and  aggression  which 
might  otherwise  have  come  from  those  quarters. 
The  king  was  succeeded  by  his  son  Philip,  at  this 
time  a  child  of  scarcely  seven  years  old,  and  the 
government  of  France  during  his  minority  was  in 
the  hands  of  Baldwin  of  Flanders,  William's  father- 
in-law.  In  Anjou  a  war  of  succession  broke  out 
which  reduced  that  state  to  impotence  for  ten 
years.  Geoffrey  Martel  had  left  no  sons,  but  had 


The  Conquest  of  Maine         127 

designated  as  his  successor  another  Geoffrey,  nick- 
named "le  Barbu"  the  elder  son  of  his  sister  Her- 
mengarde  by  Geoffrey  count  of  the  Gatinais.1 
The  younger  son,  however,  Fulk  "le  Reckin"  had 
determined  to  secure  the  Angevin  inheritance  for 
himself,  and  by  the  time  that  he  had  accomplished 
his  purpose  most  of  the  territorial  acquisitions  of 
Geoffrey  Martel  had  been  torn  from  Anjou  by  the 
neighbouring  powers.  Saintonge  and  the  Gati- 
nais fell  respectively  into  the  possession  of  the 
duke  of  Aquitaine  and  the  king  of  Prance;  and, 
more  important  than  all,  the  Angevin  acquisition 
of  Maine,  the  greatest  work  of  Geoffrey  Martel, 
was  reversed  when  in  1063  William  of  Normandy 
entered  Le  Mans  and  made  arrangements  for  the 
permanent  annexation  of  the  country. 

The  counts  of  Maine  had  never  enjoyed  such 
absolute  sovereignty  over  their  territory  as  was 
possessed  by  the  greater  feudatories  of  the  French 
crown.2  In  addition  to  the  usual  vague  claims 
which  both  Normandy  and  Anjou  were  always 
ready  to  assert  over  their  weaker  neighbours,  and 
which  nobody  would  take  seriously  when  there  was 
no  immediate  prospect  of  their  enforcement,  the 
suzerainty  of  the  king  of  France  was  much  more 
of  a  reality  over  Maine  than  over  Flanders  or 
Aquitaine.  In  particular  the  patronage  of  the 

*  See  Halphen,  Comtf  cFAnjou,p.  133. 

*  The  history  of  Maine  at  this  period  has  recently  been  dis- 
cussed by  Flach,  Les  origines  de  Vancienne  France,  vol.  iii., 
P-  543-9- 

128          William  the  Conqueror 

great  see  of  Le  Mans  rested  with  the  king  for  the 
first  half  of  the  eleventh  century;  and  this  was 
an  important  point,  for  the  bishops  of  the  period 
are  prominent  in  the  general  history  of  the 
county.  For  the  most  part  they  are  good  ex- 
amples of  the  feudal  type  of  prelate,  represented 
in  Norman  history  by  Odo  of  Bayeux  and  Geoffrey 
of  Coutances;  and  several  of  them  were  drawn 
from  a  house  fertile  in  feudal  politicians,  that  of 
the  counts  of  Bell&ne,  whose  great  fief  lay  on  the 
border  between  Maine  and  Normandy.  This  con- 
nection of  the  episcopate  of  Le  Mans  with  a  great 
Norman  family  might  be  taken  as  itself  implying 
some  extension  of  Norman  influence  over  Maine 
were  it  not  that  the  house  of  Bellfime,  half  inde- 
pendent and  altogether  unruly,  was  quite  as  likely 
to  work  against  its  overlord  as  in  his  favour.  In 
fact,  it  was  largely  through  the  Bell&tne  bishops  of 
Le  Mans  that  Angevin  power  came  to  be  estab- 
lished in  Maine  for  a  while;  the  bishops  were 
steadily  opposed  to  the  line  of  native  counts,  and 
looked  to  Anjou  for  a  counterpoise.  In  particular, 
Bishop  Gervase  (1036-1058)  brought  it  about  that 
King  Henry  made  a  grant  of  all  the  royal  rights 
over  the  see  to  Count  Geoffrey  Martel  for  the 
term  of  his  life,  the  bishop  taking  this  step  in 
pursuance  of  an  intrigue  against  the  guardian, 
of  the  reigning  count,  who  was  at  the  time  a 
minor.  Having  served  his  turn  Gervase  quickly 
fell  into  disfavour  with  Geoffrey  and  endured  a 
seven  years'  imprisonment  at  his  hands;  but 

The  Conquest  of  Maine          129 

it  was  through  his  false  step  that  Geoffrey  first 
secured  a  definite  legal  position  in  Mancel  politics. 
The  counts  of  Maine  themselves  are  rather 
shadowy  people,  but  it  is  necessary  to  get  a  dear 
idea  of  their  mutual  relationships.  Count  Her- 
bert, surnamed  "Evettle  Chien,"  the  persistent 
enemy  of  Fulk  Nerra  of  Anjou  and  the  last  of  his 
line  to  play  a  part  of  his  own  in  French  affairs, 
had  died  in  1035,  leaving  a  son,  Hugh  IV.,  and  a 
daughter,  Biota,  married  to  Walter  of  Mantes, 
count  of  the  Vexin  Frangais.  Hugh,  being  under 
age,  was  placed  under  the  governance  of  his  father's 
uncle,  Herbert  "Bacco,"  the  regent  with  whom 
Bishop  Gervase  was  at  enmity.  When  the  above- 
mentioned  grant  of  the  patronage  of  the  bishop- 
ric of  Le  Mans  to  Geoffrey  Martel  had  given  the 
latter  a  decent  pretext  for  interference  in  the 
quarrel,  the  expulsion  of  Herbert  Bacco  quickly 
followed;  and  while  the  bishop  was  in  captivity 
Geoffrey  ruled  the  country  in  the  name  of  the 
young  count.  Upon  his  death,  in  1051,  Geoffrey 
himself,  in  despite  of  the  claims  of  Hugh's  own 
children,  was  accepted  by  the  Manceaux  as  count 
of  Maine — for  it  should  be  noted  in  passing  that 
the  Mancel  baronage  was  always  attached  to 
Anjou  rather  than  to  Normandy.  The  date  at 
which  these  events  happened  is  also  worthy  of 
remark,  for  it  shows  that  during  that  rather 
obscure  war  in  the  Mayenne  valley  which  was 
decribed  in  the  last  chapter  William  of  Normandy 
was  really  fighting  against  Geoffrey  Martel  in  his 

130         William  the  Conqueror 

position  as  count  of  Maine.    A  legal  foundation 
for  Norman  interference  lay  in  the  fact,  which  we 
have  already  noticed,  that  Bertha  of  Blois,  the 
widow  of  Hugh  III.,  had  escaped  into  Normandy, 
and  that  by  her  advice  her  son  Herbert,  the  heir 
of  Maine,  had  placed  himself  and  his  inheritance 
under  the  protection  of  his  host.    William,  seeing 
his  advantage,  was  determined  to  secure  his  own 
position  in  the  matter.    He  made  an  arrangement 
with  his  guest  by  which  the  latter's  sister  Margaret 
was  betrothed  to  his  own  son  Robert,  who  here 
makes  his  first  appearance  in  history,  with  the 
stipulation  that  if  Hugh  were  to  die  without 
children  his  claims  over  Maine  should  pass  to  his 
sister  and  her  husband.    We  do  not  know  the 
exact  date  at  which  this  compact  was  made,  but  it 
is  by  no  means  improbable  that  some  agreement 
of  the  kind  underlay  that  clause  in  the  treaty  con- 
cluded with  King  Henry  after  Mortemer  by  which 
William  was  to  be  secured  in  all  the  conquests 
which  he  might  make  from  Geoffrey  of  Anjou. 

On  the  latter's  death  in  1060  Norman  influence 
rapidly  gained  the  upper  hand  in  Maine.1  The 
war  of  succession  in  Anjou  prevented  either  of 
the  claimants  from  succeeding  to  the  position  of 
Geoffrey  Martel  in  Maine;  and  if  Count  Herbert 
ruled  there  at  all  during  the  two  years  which 
elapsed  between  1060  and  his  own  death,  in  1062, 

1  The  native  Mancel  authorities  have  little  to  say  about  the 
war  of  1063,  the  course  of  which  is  described  by  William  of 
Poitiers,  103  et  seq. 

The  Conquest  of  Maine         131 

it  must  have  been  under  Norman  suzerainty. 
With  his  death  the  male  line  of  the  counts  of 
.Maine  became  extinct,  and  there  instantly  arose 
the  question  whether  the  county  should  pass  to 
Walter,  count  of  Mantes,  in  right  of  his  "wife 
Biota,  the  aunt  of  the  dead  Herbert,  or  to  William 
of  Normandy  in  trust  for  Margaret,  Herbert's 
sister,  and  her  destined  husband,  Robert,  William's 
son.  In  the  struggle  which  followed,  two  parties 
are  clearly  to  be  distinguished :  one — and  judging 
from  events  the  least  influential — in  favour  of  the 
Norman  succession,  the  other,  composed  of  the 
nationalists  of  Maine,  supporting  the  claims  of 
Biota  and  Walter.  The  latter  was  in  every  way 
an  excellent  leader  for  the  party  which  desired 
the  independence  of  the  county.  As  count  of  the 
Vexin  Frangais,  Walter  had  been  steadily  opposed 
to  the  Norman  suzerainty  over  that  district, 
which  resulted  from  the  grant  made  by  Henry 
I.  to  Robert  of  Normandy  in  1032.  His  policy 
had  been  to  withdraw  his  county  from  the 
Norman  group  of  vassal  states,  and  to  reunite  it 
to  the  royal  demesne;  he  acknowledged  the  direct 
superiority  of  the  king  of  Prance  over  the  Vexin, 
and  he  must  have  co-operated  in  the  great  invasion 
of  Normandy  in  1053;  for  it  was  at  his  capital 
that  the  western  division  of  the  royal  host  as- 
sembled before  its  march  down  the  Seine  valley. 
Even  across  the  Channel  the  interests  of  his  house 
clashed  with  those  of  William.  Walter  was  him- 
self the  nephew  of  Edward  the  Confessor,  and 

132          William  the  Conqueror 

his  brother  Ralph  who  died  in  1057  had  been  earl 
of  Hereford.  The  royal  descent  of  the  Vexin 
house  interfered  seriously  with  any  daim  which 
William  might  put  forward  to  the  inheritance  of 
Edward  the  Confessor  on  the  ground  of  consan- 
guinity. It  is  only  by  placing  together  a  number 
of  scattered  hints  that  we  discover  the  extent  of 
the  opposition  to  William  which  is  represented  by 
Walter  of  Mantes  and  his  house,  but  there  can  be 
no  doubt  of  its  reality  and  importance. 

In  Maine  itself  the  leaders  of  the  anti-Norman 
party  seem  to  have  been  William's  own  "man" 
Geoffrey  of  Mayenne  and  the  Viscount  Herbert, 
lord  of  Sainte-Suzanne.  There  is  no  doubt  that 
the  mass  of  the  baronage  and  peasantry  of  the 
county  were  on  their  side,  and  this  fact  led  William 
to  form  a  plan  of  operations  which  singularly  an- 
ticipates the  greater  campaign  of  the  autumn  of 
1066.  William's  ultimate  objective  was  the  city 
of  Le  Mans,  the  capital  of  Maine  and  its  strongest 
fortress,  the  possession  of  which  would  be  an  . 
evident  sanction  of  his  claims  over  the  county. 
But  there  were  weighty  reasons  why  he  should 
not  proceed  to  a  direct  attack  on  the  city.  Claim- 
ing the  county,  as  he  did,  in  virtue  of  legal  right, 
it  was  not  good  policy  for  him  to  take  steps  which, 
even  if  successful,  would  give  his  acquisition  the 
unequivocal  appearance  of  a  conquest;  nor  from  a 
military  point  of  view  was  it  advisable  for  him  to 
advance  into  the  heart  of  the  county  with  the  cas- 
tles of  its  hostile  baronage  unreduced  behind  him. 

The  Conquest  of  Maine          133 

He  accordingly  proceeded  to  the  reduction  of  the 
county  in  detail,  knowing  that  the  surrender  of  the 
capital  would  be  inevitable  when  the  whole  country 
around  was  in  his  hands.  The  initial  difficulties  of 
the  task  were  great,  and  the  speed  with  which  Wil- 
liam wore  down  the  resistance  of  a  land  bristling 
with  fortified  posts  proves  by  how  much  his  general- 
ship was  in  advance  of  the  leisurely,  aimless  stra- 
tegy of  his  times.  We  know  few  particulars  of  the 
war,  but  it  is  dear  that  William  described  a  great 
circle  round  the  doomed  city  of  Le  Mans,  taking 
castles,  garrisoning  them  where  necessary  with  his 
own  troops,  and  drawing  a  belt  of  ravaged  land 
closer  and  closer  round  the  central  stronghold  of 
the  county.  By  these  deliberate  measures  the 
defenders  of  Le  Mans  were  demoralised  to  such 
an  extent  that  William's  appearance  before  their 
walls  led  to  an  immediate  surrender.  From  the 
historical  point  of  view,  however,  the  chief  in- 
terest of  these  operations  lies  in  the  curiously 
close  parallel  which  they  present  to  the  events 
which  followed  the  battle  of  Hastings.  In  Eng- 
land, as  in  Maine,  it  was  William's  policy  to  gain 
possession  of  the  chief  town  of  the  country  by 
intimidation  rather  than  by  assault,  and  with  the 
differences  which  followed  from  the  special  condi- 
tions of  English  warfare  his  methods  were  similar 
in  both  cases.  London  submitted  peaceably  when 
William  had  placed  a  zone  of  devastation  between 
the  city  and  the  only  quarters  from  which  help 
could  come  to  her;  Le  Mans  could  not  hope  to 

134         William  the  Conqueror 

resist  when  the  subject  territory  had  been  wasted 
by  William's  army,  and  its  castles  surrendered 
into  his  hands.  Nor  can  we  doubt  that  the  suc- 
cess of  this  plan  in  the  valleys  of  the  Sarthe  and 
Mayenne  was  a  chief  reason  why  it  was  adopted 
in  the  valley  of  the  Thames. 

At  Le  Mans,  as  afterwards  at  London,  William, 
when  submission  had  become  necessary,  was 
received  with  every  appearance  of  joy  by  the  cit- 
izens; here,  as  in  his  later  conquest,  he  distrusted 
the  temper  of  his  new  subjects,  and  made  it  his 
first  concern  to  secure  their  fidelity  by  the  erection 
of  a  strong  fortress  in  their  midst — the  castle 
which  William  planted  on  the  verge  of  the  pre- 
cincts of  the  cathedral  of  Le  Mans  is  the  Mancel 
equivalent  of  the  Tower  of  London.  And,  as  after- 
wards in  England,  events  showed  that  the  obe- 
dience of  the  whole  country  would  not  of  necessity 
follow  from  the  submission  of  its  chief  town;  it 
cost  William  a  separate  expedition  before  the 
castle  of  Mayenne  surrendered.  But  the  parallel 
between  the  Norman  acquisition  of  Maine  and 
of  England  should  not  be  pressed  too  far;  it  lies 
rather  in  the  circumstances  of  the  respective  con- 
quests than  in  their  ultimate  results.  William  was 
fighting  less  definitely  for  his  own  hand  in  Maine 
than  afterwards  in  England;  nominally,  at  least, 
he  was  bound  to  respect  the  rights  of  the  young 
Countess  Margaret,  and  her  projected  marriage  with 
Robert  of  Normandy  proves  that  Maine  was  to  be 
treated  as  an  appanage  rather  than  placed  under 

The  Conquest  of  Maine          135 

William's  immediate  rule.  And  to  this  must  be 
added  that  the  conquest  of  Maine  was  far  less  per- 
manent and  thorough  than  the  conquest  of  England. 
The  Angevin  tendencies  of  the  Mancel  baronage 
told  after  all  in  the  long  run.  Before  twelve  years 
were  past  William  was  compelled  to  compromise 
with  the  claims  of  the  house  of  Anjou,  and  after 
his  death  Maine  rapidly  gravitated  towards  the 
rival  power  on  the  Loire. 

While  the  body  of  the  Norman  army  was  thus 
employed  in  the  reduction  of  Maine,  William 
despatched  a  force  to  make  a  diversion  by  ravaging 
Mantes  and  Chaumont,  the  hereditary  demesne 
of  his  rival, — an  expedition  in  its  way  also 
anticipating  the  invasion  which  William  was  to 
lead  thither  in  person  in  1087,  and  in  which  he 
was  to  meet  his  death.  Most  probably  it  was  this 
invasion,  of  which  the  details  are  entirely  unknown, 
which  persuaded  Walter  of  Mantes  to  acquiesce 
in  the  fait  accompli  in  Maine;  at  least  we  are  told 
that  "  of  his  own  will  he  agreed  to  the  surrender 
[of  Le  Mans],  fearing  that  while  defending  what 
he  had  acquired  by  wrong  he  might  lose  what  be- 
longed to  him  by  inheritance."  Within  a  short 
time  both  he  and  his  wife  came  to  a  sudden  and 
mysterious  end,  and  there  was  a  suspicion  afloat 
that  William  himself  was  not  unconcerned  in  it. 
It  was  one  of  the  many  slanders  thrown  upon 
William  by  Waltheof  and  his  boon  companions  at 
the  treasonable  wedding  feast  at  Exning  in  1075 
that  the  duke  had  invited  his  rival  and  his  wife  to 

136         William  the  Conqueror 

Palaise  and  that  while  they  were  his  guests  he 
poisoned  them  both  in  one  night.  Medieval 
credulity  in  a  matter  of  this  kind  was  unbounded; 
and  a  sinister  interpretation  of  Walter's  death 
was  inevitably  suggested  by  the  fact  of  his  recent 
hostilities  against  his  host. 

One  check  to  the  success  of  William's  plans 
followed  hard  on  the  death  of  Walter  and 
Biota.  Margaret,  the  destined  bride  of  Robert  of 
Normandy,  died  before  the  marriage  could  be 
consummated.  In  1063  Robert  himself  could  not 
have  been  more  than  nine  years  old ;  while,  although 
Margaret  must  have  reached  the  age  of  twelve, 
the  whole  course  of  the  history  suggests  that  she 
was  little  more  than  a  child,  a  fact  which  some- 
what tends  to  discount  the  pious  legend,  in  which 
our  monastic  informants  revel,  that  the  girl  shrank 
from  the  thought  of  marriage  and  had  already 
begun  to  practise  the  austerities  of  the  religious 
profession.  She  left  two  sisters  both  older  than 
herself,  whose  marriage  alliances  are  important 
for  the  future  history  of  Maine1 ;  but  their  claims 
for  the  present  were  ignored,  and  William  him- 
self adopted  the  title  of  count  of  Maine. 

Somewhere  about  the  time  of  these  events 
(the  exact  date  is  unknown)  William  was  seized 
with  a  severe  illness,  which  brought  him  to  the 
point  of  death.  So  sore  bestead  was  he  that  he 
was  laid  on  the  ground  as  one  about  to  die,  and 
in  his  extreme  need  he  gave  the  reliquary  which 
1  See  the  table  on  page  . 

The  Breton  War  137 

accompanied  him  on  his  progresses  to  the 
church  of  St.  Mary  of  Coutances.  No  chronicler 
has  recorded  this  episode,  of  which  we  should 
know  nothing  were  it  not  that  the  said  reliquary 
was  subsequently  redeemed  by  grants  of  land  to 
the  church  which  had  received  it  in  pledge;  yet 
the  future  history  of  France  and  England  hung 
on  the  event  of  that  day. l 

It  was  probably  within  a  year  of  the  settlement 
of  Maine  that  William  engaged  in  the  last  war  un- 
dertaken by  him  as  a  mere  duke  of  the  Normans, 
the  Breton  campaign  whichis  commonly  assigned  to 
the  year  1064.  As  in  the  earlier  wars  with  Anjou, 
a  border  dispute  seems  to  have  been  the  immediate 
occasion  of  hostilities,  though  now  as  then  there 
were  grounds  of  quarrel  between  the  belligerents 
which  lay  deeper.  Count  Alan  of  Rennes,  Wil- 
liam's cousin  and  guardian,  had  been  succeeded 
by  his  son  Conan,  who  like  his  father  was  con- 
tinually struggling  to  secure  for  his  line  the  suze- 
rainty of  the  whole  of  Brittany  as  against  the  rival 
house  of  the  counts  of  Nantes,  a  struggle  which, 
under  different  conditions  and  with  additional 
competitors  at  different  times  had  now  been 
going  on  for  more  than  a  century.  The  county 
of  Nantes  at  this  particular  time  was  held  by  a 
younger  branch  of  the  same  family,  and  there  are 
some  slight  indications  that  the  counts  of  Nantes, 
perhaps  through  enmity  to  their  northern  kinsmen, 

1  Round.  Calendar  of  Documents  Preserved  in  France, 
No.  937. 

138          William  the  Conqueror 

took  up  a  more  friendly  attitude  towards  Nor- 
mandy than  that  adopted  by  the  counts  of  Rennes. 
However  this  may  be,  Count  Conan  appears  in  the 
following  story  as  representing  Breton  indepen- 
dence against  Norman  aggression;  and  when 
William  founded  the  castle  of  Saint  James  in  the 
south-west  angle  of  the  Avranchin  as  a  check 
on  Breton  marauders,  Conan  determined  on  an  in- 
vasion of  Normandy,  and  sent  word  to  William 
of  the  exact  day  on  which  he  would  cross  the 

By  the  majority  of  Frenchmen  it  would  seem 
that  Brittany  was  regarded  as  a  land  inhabited 
by  savages;  in  the  eleventh  century  the  penin- 
sula stood  out  as  distinct  from  the  rest  of  France 
as  it  stands  to-day.  Its  inhabitants  had  a  high 
reputation  for  their  courage  and  simplicity  of  life, 
but  they  were  still  in  the  tribal  stage  of  society, 
and  their  manners  and  customs  were  regarded 
with  abhorrence  by  the  ecclesiastical  writers  of  the 
time.  Like  most  tribal  peoples  they  had  no  idea 
of  permanent  political  unity;  and  the  present  war 
was  largely  influenced  by  the  fact  that  within  the 
county  of  Rennes  a  Celtic  chief  named  Rhiwallon 
was  holding  the  town  of  Dol  against  his  immedi- 
ate lord  on  behalf  of  the  duke  of  Normandy.  *  In- 
stead of  invading  Normandy  as  he  had  threatened, 
Conan  was  driven  to  besiege  Dol,  and  it  was 

» Rhiwallon  was  brother  of  Junquen6,  the  archbishop  of 
Dol,  whose  presence  at  the  Norman  court  during  William's 
minority  has  been  noted  above.  De  la  Borderie,  iii.,  p. 

The  Breton  War  139 

William's  first  object  in  the  campaign  to  relieve 
his  adherent  there. 

What  gives  exceptional  interest  to  the  some- 
what unimportant  expedition  which  followed  is 
the  undoubted  presence  in  William's  army  of  his 
future  rival  for  the  crown  of  England,  Harold 
the  earl  of  Wessex.1  The  reason  for,  and  the 
incidents  connected,  with,  his  visit  to  Normandy 
will  have  to  be  considered  in  a  later  chapter,  but 
there  cannot  be  any  question  as  to  its  reality;  and 
in  a  famous  section,  the  Bayeux  tapestry,  our  best 
record  of  this  campaign,  shows  us  Harold  rescu- 
ing with  his  own  hand  a  number  of  Norman  soldiers 
who  were  being  swept  away  by  the  Coesnon  as  the 
army  crossed  the  border  stream  of  Brittany.  On 
the  approach  of  the  Norman  army  Conan  aban- 
doned the  siege  of  Dol  and  fell  back  on  his  capital 
of  Rennes;  but  relations  soon  seem  to  have  become 
strained  between  Rhiwallon  and  his  formidable 
ally,  for  we  find  Rhiwallon  remarking  to  William 
that  it  mattered  little  to  the  country  folk  around 
Dol  whether  their  substance  were  to  be  consumed 
by  a  Norman  or  a  Breton  army.  Possibly  it  may 
have  been  the  remonstrances  of  Rhiwallon  which 

i  William  of  Poitiers  (109-112)  is  the  sole  authority  for  this 
war  and  he  gives  no  dates.  He  definitely  asserts  the  presence 
of  Harold  and  his  companions  in  the  Norman  army,  and  his 
narrative  contains  nothing  irreconcilable  with  the  relevant 
scenes  in  the  Bayeux  tapestry.  The  war  was  probably  in- 
tended to  enforce  Norman  suzerainty  over  Brittany,  and  the 
rising  of  Rhiwallon  of  Dol  probably  gave  William  his  op- 
portunity. De  la  Borderie,  Histoire  dc  Bretagne,  iii.,  p. 

140         William  the  Conqueror 

induced  William  to  retire  beyond  the  Norman 
border,  but  we  are  told  that  as  he  was  in  the  act 
of  leaving  Brittany  word  was  brought  to  him  that 
Geoffrey  (le  Barbti)  count  of  Anjou  had  joined  him- 
self to  Conan  with  a  large  army  and  that  both 
princes  would  advance  to  fight  him  on  the  morrow. 
It  does  not  appear  that  William  gave  them  the 
opportunity,  but  the  tapestry  records  what  was 
probably  a  sequel  to  this  campaign  in  the  section 
which  represents  William  as  besieging  Conan 
himself  in  the  fortress  of  Dinan.  From  the 
picture  which  displays  Conan  surrendering  the 
keys  of  the  castle  on  the  point  of  his  spear  to 
the  duke  it  is  evident  that  the  place  was  taken, 
but  we  know  nothing  of  the  subsequent  fortunes 
of  the  war  nor  of  the  terms  according  to  which 
peace  was  made.  Within  two  years  of  these 
events,  if  we  are  right  in  assigning  them  to  1064, 
Conan  died  suddenly,1  and  was  succeeded  by  his 
brother-in-law  Hoel,  count  of  Cornouaille,  who 
united  in  his  own  person  most  of  the  greater 
lordships  into  which  Brittany  had  hitherto  been 

It  may  be  well  at  this  point  briefly  to  review  the 
position  held  by  William  at  the  close  of  1064. 
With  the  exception  of  his  father-in-law  of  Flanders, 

i  The  canons  of  Chartres  celebrated  his  obit  on  December 
i  ith,  a  fact  which  discounts  the  story  in  William  of  JumiSges 
that  Conan  was  poisoned  by  an  adherent  of  William.  If 
William  had  wished  to  remove  Conan  the  latter  would  cer- 
tainly have  died  before  William  had  sailed  for  England. 


U.   X 

o  2 


w  =E 

The  Breton  War  141 

no  single  feudatory  north  of  the  Loire  could  for  a 
moment  be  placed  in  comparison  with  him.  An- 
jou  and  the  royal  demesne  itself  were,  for  different 
reasons,  as  we  have  seen,  of  Ettle  consequence  at 
this  time.  The  influence  of  Champagne  under  its 
featureless  rulers  was  always  less  than  might  have 
been  expected  from  the  extent  and  situation  of  the 
county;  and  just  now  the  attention  of  Count  Theo- 
bald III.  was  directed  towards  the  recovery  of 
Touraine  from  the  Angevin  claimants  rather  than 
towards  any  rivalry  with  the  greater  power  of 
Normandy.  Brittany  indeed  had  just  shown  it- 
self hostile,  but  the  racial  division  between  Ere- 
tagne  Brettonante  and  the  GalKcised  east,  which 
always  prevented  the  duchy  from  attaining  high 
rank  among  the  powers  of  north  Prance,  rendered 
it  quite  incapable  of  competing  with  Normandy 
on  anything  like  equal  terms.  With  the  feudal 
lords  to  the  east  of  the  Seine  and  upper  Loire 
William  had  few  direct  relations,  but  they,  like 
the  princes  of  Aquitaine,  had  received  a  severe 
lesson  as  to  the  power  of  Normandy  in  the  rout 
of  the  royal  army  which  followed  the  surprise 
of  Mortemer.  On  the  other  hand,  Normandy, 
threaded  by  a  great  river,  with  a  long  seaboard 
and  good  harbours,  with  a  baronage  reduced 
to  order  and  a  mercantile  class  hardly  less 
prosperous  than  the  men  of  the  great  cities 
of  Flanders,  would  have  been  potentially  formi- 
dable in  the  hands  of  a  ruler  of  far  less  power  than 
the  future  conqueror  of  England.  Never  before 

142          William  the  Conqueror 

had  Normandy  attained  so  high  a  relative  position 
as  that  in  which  she  appears  in  the  seventh  decade 
of  the  eleventh  century;  and,  kind  as  was  fortune 
to  the  mighty  enterprise  which  she  was  so  soon 
to  undertake,  its  success  and  even  its  possibility 
rested  on  the  skilful  policy  which  had  guided  her 
history  in  the  eventful  years  which  had  followed 

Denier  of  Conan  II.  of  Brittany 



THE  idea  of  a  Norman  conquest  of  England 
was  no  new  thing  when  the  actual  blow  fell 
in  the  autumn  of  1066.  The  fateful  marriage  of 
Ethelred  and  Emma,  sixty  years  before,  had 
made  it  impossible  that  the  politics  of  the  island 
and  the  duchy  should  ever  again  be  independent 
of  each  other;  it  led  directly  to  the  English  expe- 
dition of  Robert  of  Normandy  in  1034,  and  in  Ed- 
ward the  Confessor  it  gave  England  a  king  who 
was  half  a  Norman  in  blood,  and  whose  ideas  of 
government  were  derived  from  the  political  con- 
ditions of  his  mother's  land.  To  whatever  aspect 
of  the  history  of  this  period  we  may  turn,  this 
Norman  influence  will  sooner  or  later  become 
apparent;  in  religion  and  commerce,  as  in  the 
narrower  field  of  politics,  the  Norman  is  working 
his  way  into  the  main  current  of  English  national 

All  this,  however,  is  somewhat  apart  from  the 
question  as  to  the  date  at  which  Duke  William 
began  to  lay  plans  for  carrying  out  the  conquest 
of  England  in  his  own  person.  There  are  two  un- 
known quantities  in  the  problem:  the  date  at 
which  it  was  generally  recognised  that  Edward 
the  Confessor  would  leave  no  direct  heir  to  the 


144         William  the  Conqueror 

English  throne,  and  the  king's  own  subsequent  in- 
tentions with  respect  to  the  succession.  Had  such 
an  heir  been  forthcoming  in  1066  we  may  be  sure 
that  his  inheritance  would  have  been  undisturbed 
from  the  side  of  Normandy,  for  William's  daim 
to  succeed  his  childless  cousin  by  right  of  consan- 
guinity was  something  more  than  a  matter  of 
form.  Now  Edward  was  married  in  1045,  being 
then  in  the  very  primei  of  life,  and  we  must  cer- 
tainly allow  for  the  passage  of  a  reasonable  period 
of  time  before  we  can  feel  certain  that  the  poli- 
ticians of  England  and  Normandy  were  treating 
the  succession  as  an  open  question.  In  particular 
it  is  difficult  to  be  confident  that  in  1049,  when 
the  negotiations  for  the  marriage  of  William  and 
Matilda  of  Flanders  were  in  progress,  the  ulti- 
mate childlessness  of  Edward  the  Confessor  was 
known  to  be  inevitable.1 

A  similar  uncertainty  hangs  over  the  plans 
which  the  Confessor  formed  in  the  latter  event 
for  the  future  of  his  kingdom.  His  Norman  blood, 
his  early  residence  in  the  duchy,  and  the  marked 
predilection  which  he  showed  for  men  of  Norman 
race,  very  naturally  lead  to  the  impression  that, 
in  the  earlier  part  of  his  reign  at  least,  his  desire 
was  to  provide  for  the  transmission  of  his  inheri- 
tance to  his  mother's  family.  But  even  this  con- 
clusion is  not  beyond  question.  Edward  on  his 

*  The  scheme  of  policy  which  Green  (Conquest  of  England, 
522-524,  ed.  1883)  founded  an  relation  to  their  marriage 
rests  upon  this  assumption. 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession   145 

accession  in  1042  occupied  a  most  difficult  position. 
After  twenty-five  years  of  Danish  rule  a  very 
distinct  party  in  the  state  wished  to  maintain 
the  Scandinavian  connection.  Edward's  recog- 
nition as  king  was  mainly  the  work  of  Earl  God- 
wine  and  his  party,  and  the  earl  expected  and 
could  enforce  full  payment  for  his  services. 
Edward  would  have  shown  less  than  the  little 
intelligence  with  which  he  is  to  be  credited  if  he 
had  failed  to  see  that  some  counterpoise  to  the 
power  of  his  overmighty  subject  might  be  found 
by  giving  wealth  and  influence  to  strangers  from 
across  the  Channel.  Hence  arose  that  stream  of 
Norman  immigration  which  distinguishes  the  reign 
and  the  consequent  formation  of  a  royalist,  non- 
national  party;  for  each  individual  settler  must 
have  understood  that  all  he  might  possess  in  the 
island  depended  on  the  king's  favour.  Such  a 
policy  was  bound  sooner  or  later  to  produce  a 
reaction  on  the  part  of  Godwine  and  his  asso- 
ciates; and  thus  arose  the  famous  crisis  of  the 
autumn  of  1051.  Godwine,  trying  to  reassert  his 
influence  in  the  state,  fails  to  carry  with  him  the 
other  earls  of  England  in  an  attack  on  the  king's 
favourites  and  is  driven  to  flee  the  country.  What 
Godwine  resented  was  clearly  the  existence  of  a 
rival  power  at  court,  and  the  apathy  in  his  cause 
of  such  men  as  Leofric  of  Mercia  and  Siward  of 
Northumbria  suggests  that  he  was  not  recognised 
by  them  as  in  any  real  sense  the  champion  of 
national  as  against  foreign  influences.  With  his 

146         William  the  Conqueror 

flight  the  first  period  of  the  reign  of  Edward  the 
Confessor  ends,  and  in  the  interval  before  his 
restoration  William  of  Normandy  made  his  first 
appearance  on  the  shores  of  England. 

Of  this  visit  we  know  very  little;  the  native 
chronicler  of  Worcester  simply  tells  us  that  "  Earl 
William  came  from  over  sea  with  a  great  company 
of  Frenchmen,  and  the  king  received  him  and  as 
many  of  his  companions  as  pleased  him  and  let 
them  go  again."  The  question  at  once  presents 
itself,  did  Edward  at  this  time  make  any  promise 
of  the  English  crown  to  William  ?  If  he  ever  did 
make  an  explicit  promise  to  this  effect  it  can 
scarcely  be  placed  at  any  other  date,  for  this  was 
the  only  occasion  after  Edward's  departure  from 
Normandy  in  1042  on  which  the  king  and  the 
duke  are  known  to  have  met  in  person.  The  fact 
that  such  a  promise  forms  an  essential  part  of 
the  story  of  the  Conquest  as  told  by  all  Norman 
writers  is  an  argument  in  its  favour  which  would 
more  than  counterbalance  the  natural  silence  of 
the  English  authorities,  were  they  much  better 
informed  upon  matters  of  high  policy  than  is 
actually  the  case.  But,  after  all,  the  question  is 
really  of  secondary  importance,  for  in  the  next 
year  Godwine  returned  to  power,  and  Edward 
for  the  rest  of  his  reign  seems  to  have  made  no 
serious  attempt  to  disturb  the  ascendency  of  the 
English  party. 

The  death  of  Godwine  in  1053  made  little  im- 
mediate difference  to  the  political  situation  in 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession   147 

general  nor  to  the  existing  relations  between  Nor- 
mandy and  England.  The  succession  of  his  son 
Harold  to  the  earldom  of  Wessex  provokes  no 
comment  on  the  part  of  the  contemporary  chroni- 
clers; the  semi-hereditary  character  of  the  great 
earldoms  was  by  this  time  recognised  for  all 
working  purposes.  Nevertheless,  we  can  see  that 
the  accession  of  Harold  to  a  provincial  government 
of  the  first  rank,  and  most  probably  to  the  un- 
official primacy  in  the  state  which  had  been  held 
by  Earl  Godwine,  takes  place  among  the  chief 
events  in  the  sequence  of  causes  which  ended  in 
the  great  overthrow  of  1066.  On  the  other  hand 
we  should  not  be  led  by  the  actual  cause  of  the 
history  into  the  assumption  that  Harold's  de- 
signs upon  the  crown  had  already  begun  at  this 
early  date.  With  all  his  personal  weakness,  King 
Edward's  own  wishes  were  likely  to  be  the  de- 
cisive factor  in  the  choice  of  his  successor,  nor 
have  we  any  record  that  Harold  opposed  the  can- 
didate whom  we  know  to  have  received  the  king's 
favour  shortly  after  this  time. 

This  candidate,  whose  appearance  in  the  field 
with  the  king's  sanction  was  likely  to  prove  fatal 
to  any  aspirations  to  the  throne  in  which  either 
William  or  Harold  might  have  begun  to  indulge, 
was  Edward  the  Etheling,  son  of  the  famous 
Edward  Ironside,  and  therefore  nephew  by  the 
half-blood  to  the  Confessor.  He  had  been  sent 
by  Cnut  into  remote  exile,  and  the  summons  which 
brought  him  back  to  England  as  its  destined  heir 

148         William  the  Conqueror 

was  the  work  of  King  Edward  himself.  By  a 
strange  chance,  immediately  on  his  arrival  in 
1057,  and  before  he  had  even  seen  the  king,  the 
etheling  fell  ill  and  died,  *  and,  although  there  was 
something  about  his  end  which  was  rather  myste- 
rious, there  is  nothing  to  suggest  that  it  was  ac- 
celerated in  the  interest  of  any  other  pretender  to 
the  crown.  With  his  death  there  really  passed 
away  the  one  promising  chance  of  perpetuating 
the  old  English  dynasty,  for  Edgar,  the  son  of  the 
dead  etheling,  who  was  to  live  until  1126  at 
least,  can  only  have  been  the  merest  child  in 

It  would  seem  then  that  1057  is  the  earliest 
possible  year  from  which  the  rivalry  of  of 
Normandy  and  Harold  Godwinson  for  the  throne 
of  England  can  be  dated.  The  recall  of  Edward 
the  Etheling  suggests  that  it  cannot  be  placed 
earlier,  while  the  state  of  preparedness  in  which 
both  parties  are  found  at  the  beginning  of  1066 
shows  that  their  plans  must  have  been  formed  for 
some  years  at  least  before  the  Confessor's  death. 
And  there  is  one  mysterious  episode  which  may 
very  possibly  have  some  connection  with  the 
change  in  the  succession  question  caused  by  the 
death  of  Edward  the  Etheling.  In  or  about  1058 
Earl  Harold  made  a  tour  on  the  continent,  reach- 
ing as  far  as  Rome,  but  also  including  Normandy 
and  North  France  generally,  and  we  are  told  that 
he  made  '  arrangements  for  receiving  help  from 

»  Poem  in  Worcester  Chronicle,  1057. 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession   149 

certain  French  powers  if  he  should  need  it  at  any 
time.1  The  passage  in  which  we  are  told  of  these 
negotiations  is  very  obscure,  but  it  is  by  no  means 
improbable  that  Harold,  when  the  death  of  the 
etheling  had  opened  for  him  a  possibility  of  suc- 
ceeding to  the  crown,  may  have  tried  to  find  allies 
who  would  hamper  the  movements  of  his  most 
formidable  rival  when  the  critical  time  came. 
Also  it  is  not  without  significance  that  1058  is  the 
year  of  Varaville,  a  date  at  which  French  jealousy 
of  Norman  power  would  be  at  its  height.  At  any 
rate  we  may  at  this  point  stop  to  consider  the 
relative  position  occupied  by  the  earl  and  the 
duke  respectively  with  respect  to  their  chances  of 
succeeding  to  the  splendid  inheritance  of  the 
oldest  dynasty  in  Western  Europe. 

The  first  point  which  deserves  discussion  is  the 
nature  of  the  title  to  the  English  crown.  "  Hered- 
itary" and  "elective,"  the  words  which  one 
naturally  contrasts  in  this  connection,  are  terms 
of  vague  and  fluctuating  meaning  in  any  case, 
while  it  has  always  been  recognised  that  neither 
can  be  employed  in  relation  to  the  tenure  of  the 
crown  at  any  period  of  English  history  without 
due  qualification.  To  say  simply  that  the  English 
monarchy  was  "elective"  at  the  period  with 
which  we  are  dealing,  is  an  insufficient  statement 
unless  we  also  consider  the  limits  within  which  the 
choice  lay  on  any  given  occasion,  the  process  in- 
volved in  the  act  of  election,  and  the  body  which 

*  Vita  Eadwardi  Confessoris  (R.  S.),  410. 

150         William  the  Conqueror 

exercised  the  elective  right.  With  regard  to  the 
first  of  these  matters  there  undoubtedly  existed 
an  ancient  and  deep-seated  feeling  that  a  king 
should  only  be  chosen  from  a  kingly  stock;  in  the 
eleventh  century  the  sentiment  still  survived  with 
which  at  an  earlier  period  the  nation  had  demanded 
that  its  rulers  should  have  sprung  from  the  blood 
of  the  gods.  This  idea  was  far  older  than  any 
feeling  of  nationality,  to  which  it  might  from  time 
to  time  run  counter— it  helps,  for  instance,  to 
explain  the  ease  with  which  the  English  had  ac- 
cepted the  royal  Dane  Cnut  for  their  ruler — but 
with  this  highly  important  reservation  it  is  very 
improbable  that  the  succession  was  determined  by 
anything  which  could  be  called  general  principles. 
The  crown  would  naturally  pass  to  the  most 
popular  kinsman  of  the  late  ruler,  and  the  ques- 
tion of  the  exact  relationship  between  the  dead 
king  and  his  heir  would  be  a  secondary  matter. 

William  of  Normandy  was  of  sufficiently  noble 
birth  to  satisfy  the  popular  sentiment  in  the  for- 
mer respect,  for  Rollo  himself  was  the  scion  of 
an  ancient  line  of  Norwegian  chieftains.  Harold 
on  his  mother's  side  inherited  royal  blood,  for 
Gytha,  Earl  Godwine's  wife,  was  descended  from 
the  family  of  the  kings  of  Sweden;  but  whereas 
no  writer  near  the  time  remarks  on  this  feature 
in  Harold's  descent,  the  origin  of  the  "jarls  of 
Normandy "  was  still  a  living  memory  in  the 
north.  Far  more  important  in  every  way,  how- 
ever, was  the  undoubted  kinship  between  William 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession   151 

and  King  Edward,  a  fact  which  William  made 
the  very  foundation  of  his  claim  and  which  was 
undoubtedly  recognised  by  the  men  of  the  time  as 
giving  him  an  advantage  which  could  not  be 
gainsaid.  At  the  present  day,  indeed,  it  is  rather 
difficult  to  understand  the  influence  exercised  by 
the  somewhat  distant  relationship  which  was  all 
that  united  William  and  Edward,  especially  in 
view  of  the  fact  that  Edgar,  son  of  Edward  the 
Etheling,  still  continued  the  male  line  of  the  royal 
house  of  Wessex.  We  can  only  explain  it  on  the 
ground  that  in  1066  Edgar  was  under  the  age  at 
which  he  would  be  competent  to  rule  indepen- 
dently, and  that  the  public  opinion  of  the  time 
would  not  accept  a  minor  as  king  so  long  as  there 
existed  another  candidate  connected  with  the 
royal  house  and  capable  of  taking  up  the  reins  of 
government  in  his  own  hands.  In  fact,  of  the 
three  candidates  between  whom  the  choice  lay 
on  the  Confessor's  death  William,  after  all,  was 
the  one  who  combined  the  greatest  variety  of 
desirable  qualifications.  Edgar  was  nearest  to  the 
throne  by  order  of  birth,  but  his  youth  placed  him 
at  a  fatal  disadvantage;  Harold  was  a  man  of 
mature  years  and  of  wide  experience  in  the  gov- 
ernment, but  his  warmest  supporters  could  not 
pretend  that  he  was  a  kinsman  of  King  Edward; 
William  was  already  a  ruler  whose  fame  had 
spread  far  beyond  the  borders  of  his  own  duchy, 
and  in  the  third  generation  he  could  claim  a  com- 
mon ancestor  with  the  dead  king.  Lastly,  we 

1 5  2          William  the  Conqueror 

should  remember  that  the  fact  which  tinder 
modern  conditions  would  outweigh  all  other  con- 
siderations, the  fact  that  William  was  a  foreigner, 
was  less  important  in  the  eleventh  century  than 
at  any  later  time.  It  was  certainly  a  disadvan- 
tage, but  one  which  was  shared  in  a  less  degree  by 
both  William's  competitors:  if  he  was  a  pure  Nor- 
man, Harold  was  half  a  Dane,  Edgar  was  half 
a  German.  The  example  of  Cnut  showed  that 
there  was  nothing  to  prevent  a  man  of  wholly 
foreign  blood  from  receiving  general  acceptance  as 
long  of  England ;  and  if  the  racial  differences  which 
existed  in  the  country  prepared  the  way  for  his 
reception,  something  of  the  same  work  was  done 
for  William  by  those  Normans  who  had  flocked 
into  England  under  King  Edward's  protection. 

In  all  those  cases  in  which  the  late  king  had 
left  no  single,  obvious,  heir  to  the  throne,  the 
succession  would  naturally  be  settled  by  the  great 
men  of  the  land — by  that  informal,  fluctuating 
body  known  as  the  "witan."  So  fax  as  we  can 
tell,  the  witan  would  be  guided  in  part  by  the 
preva.ili.Tig  popular  opinion,  but  more  effectually 
by  the  known  wishes  of  the  dead  sovereign  with 
respect  to  his  successor;  we  know,  for  instance, 
that  both  these  influences  contributed  to  the 
election  of  Edward  the  Confessor  himself.1  It 
is,  however,  probable  that,  so  far  from  the  elective 

1  Worcester  Chronicle,  1042 : "  All  the  people  chose  Edward 
and  received  him  for  King,  as  it  belonged  to  him  by  right 
of  birth." 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession    153 

nature  of  the  monarchy  having  been  a  main 
principle  of  English  institutions  from  the  earliest 
date,  the  idea  was  really  an  importation  of  the 
eleventh  century.  It  has  recently  been  suggested 
that  the  action  of  the  witan  in  early  times  with 
regard  to  the  choice  of  a  new  king  was  something 
which  would  be  much  better  described  as  "recog- 
nition" than  as  election  in  any  modern  sense, 
that  there  is  no  evidence  to  prove  that  the  witan 
behaved  as  a  united  body,  and  that  it  was  the 
adhesion  of  individual  nobles  to  the  most  likely 
heir  which  really  invested  him  with  the  royal 
power.1  According  to  this  account,  such  traces 
of  election  in  the  wider  sense  as  are  discernible 
in  the  eleventh  century  may  with  probability 
be  set  down  to  Danish  influence,  for  the  three 
Scandinavian  nations  had  advanced  much  fur- 
ther than  other  Teutonic  peoples  in  the  develop- 
ment of  their  native  institutional  forms.  But, 
even  so,  there  is  much  in  the  history  of  the  year 
1066  to  suggest  that  the  older  ideas  still  prevailed: 
William  claimed  the  throne  by  hereditary  right 
and  it  was  the  submission  of  Stigand,  Edwin, 
Morcar,  Edgar  the  Etheling,  and  the  citizens  of 
London,  not  the  vote  of  any  set  assembly,  which 
gave  sanction  to  his  claim. 

In  the  light  of  this  anticipation  we  may  now 
consider  the  most  perplexing  question  in  William's 
life,  the  truth  underlying  the  famous  story  of 

1  Chadwick,  Studies  in  Anglo-Saxon  Institutions,  Excursus 

iS4          William  the  Conqueror 

Harold's  visit  to  Normandy  and  the  oath  which 
lie  there  swore  to  William.  Unlike  most  questions 
relating  to  the  eleventh  century,  the  difficulty  in 
the  present  case  arises  from  the  wealth  of  our 
information  on  the  subject;  with  the  exception 
of  those  purely  English  writers  Florence  of 
Worcester  and  the  authors  of  the  Anglo-Saxon 
chronicle,  the  significance  of  whose  silence  will 
be  seen  shortly,  every  historical  writer  of  the 
fifty  years  succeeding  the  Conquest  tells  the  story 
at  length,  and  no  two  writers  tell  the  same 
story.  And  yet  we  cannot  safely  reject  the 
tale  as  fabulous  for  two  reasons:  the  silence  of 
those  who  wrote  with  native  sympathies  proves 
that  there  was  an  element  of  truth  in  the  Norman 
story  which  they  did  not  feel  themselves  at 
liberty  to  deny,  while  the  rapid  diffusion  of  the 
tale  itself  among  writers  widely  separated  in 
point  of  place  and  circumstance  would  be  unin- 
telligible if  it  were  the  result  of  sheer  invention. 
Nor  is  a  story  necessarily  suspicious  because  its 
details  are  romantic. 

The  skeleton  of  the  tale  is  that  Harold,  hap- 
pening, for  reasons  diversely  stated,  to  be  sailing 
in  the  Channel,  was  driven  by  a  storm  on  to  the 
coast  of  Ponthieu,  and  that  being  thereby  regarded 
as  the  lawful  prey  of  the  count  he  was  thrown 
into  prison  at  Beaurain,  evidently  to  be  held  to 
ransom.  While  Harold  was  in  prison  the  Duke 
of  Normandy  became  apprised  of  the  fact,  and 
sending  to  Count  Guy,  who  had  become  his 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession   155 

feudal  dependant  after  the  battle  of  Mortemer, 
William  had  Harold  brought  with  all  honour 
into  the  duchy.    For  an  indefinite  time  the  earl 
stayed  at  the  court  of  the  duke,  and  even  accom- 
panied him  on  the  Breton  expedition  which  was 
described  in  the  last  chapter;  but  before  his 
departure  he  placed  himself  under  some  obli- 
gation to  his  host,  the  nature  of  which  is  the 
key  to  the  whole  matter,  but  with  regard  to  which 
scarcely  any  two  writers  are  in  unison.    There 
is  no  doubt  that  Harold  became  William's  man, 
and  it  would  seem  certain  that  he  took  an  oath 
which  bore  some  reference  to  the  rivalry  for  the 
English  throne  in  which  both  were  evidently 
engaged.    Most  writers  make  the  essence  of  the 
oath  to  be  a  promise  on  the  part  of  Harold  to  do 
all  in  his  power  to  secure  the  crown  for  William 
upon  Edward's  death,  and  there  is  a  powerful 
current  of  tradition  which  asserts  that  Harold 
pledged  himself  to  marry  one  of  William's  daugh- 
ters.   In  other  words,  Harold  undertook  to  recog- 
nise William  as  king  of  England  in  due  season, 
and  to  secure  for  him  the  adhesion  of  such  of  the 
English  nobility  as  were  under  his  influence;  his 
marriage  with  William's  daughter  being  doubt- 
less intended  to  guarantee  his  good  faith  when 
the  critical  moment  came.    Such  an  agreement 
would  still  leave  Harold  obviously  the  first  man 
to  England;  indeed  the  relationship  which  would 
have  been  created  between  William  and  Harold, 
if  it  had  been  carried  into  effect,  would  in  some 

156          William  the  Conqueror 

respects  have  reproduced  the  relationship  in 
which  Edward  the  Confessor  had  stood  with 
regard  to  Earl  Godwine  in  1042.  This  fact  mates 
it  difficult  to  believe  that  Harold  was  necessarily 
acting  under  compulsion  when  he  took  the  oath; 
he  had  many  rivals  and  enemies  in  England, 
and  it  was  well  worth  his  while  to  secure  his 
position  in  the  event  of  Edward's  death  before 
his  own  plans  were  mature.1 

William  on  his  part  had  everything  to  gain 
by  causing  Harold  to  enter  into  such  an  engage- 
ment. If  the  oath  were  kept  William  would  have 
turned  a  probable  rival  into  an  ally;  if  it  were 
broken  he  would  secure  all  the  moral  advantage 
which  would  accrue  to  him  from  the  perjury  of 
his  opponent.  But  there  is  no  reason  to  believe 

1  The  one  contemporary  account  of  Harold's  oath  which 
we  possess  is  that  given  by  William  of  Poitiers  (ed.  Giles,  108). 
According  to  this  Harold  swore  (i)  to  be  William's  representa- 
tive (vicarius)  at  Edward's  court;  (2)  to  work  for  William's 
acceptance  as  king  upon  Edward's  death;  (3)  in  the  mean- 
time to  cause  Dover  castle  to  receive  a  Norman  garrison,  and 
to  build  other  castles  where  the  duke  might  command  in  his 
interest.  In  a  later  passage  William  of  Poitiers  asserts 
that  the  duke  wished  to  marry  Harold  to  one  of  his  daugh- 
ters. In  all  this  there  is  nothing  impossible,  and  to  assume 
with  Freeman  that  the  reception  of  a  Norman  garrison 
into  a  castle  entrusted  to  Harold's  charge  would  have  been 
an  act  of  treason  is  to  read  much  later  political  ideas  into 
a  transaction  of  the  eleventh  century.  William  was  Edward's 
kinsman  and  we  have  no  reason  to  suppose  that  the  king 
would  have  regarded  with  disfavour  an  act  which  would 
have  given  his  cousin  the  means  of  making  good  the  claim 
to  his  succession  which  there  is  every  reason  to  believe  that 
he  himself  had  sanctioned  twelve  years  before. 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession   157 

that  he  insisted  on  Harold  taking  the  oath  merely 
in  order  that  he  might  break  it,  nor  is  there  any 
good  authority  for  the  famous  story  that  William 
entrapped  Harold  into  taking  a  vow  of  unusual 
solemnity  by  concealing  a  reliquary  beneath 
the  chest  on  which  the  latter's  hand  rested  while 
he  swore.  It  was  inevitable  that  an  incident 
of  this  kind  should  gather  round  it  a  mythiestT 
accretion:  but  the  whole  course  of  the  history 
proves  that  some  such  episode  really  took  place. 
William's  apologists  could  put  it  in  the  forefront 
of  their  narratives  of  the  Conquest,  and  all  sub- 
sequent writers  have  dwelt  upon  it  as  a  main 
cause  of  the  invasion;  yet,  although  scepticism 
is  from  time  to  time  expressed  upon  this  detail 
or  that,  not  one  of  the  historians  of  the  next 
century,  some  of  whom  were  possessed  of  dis- 
tinct critical  powers,  and  had  access  to  good 
sources  of  information,  has  given  a  hint  that  the 
whole  story  was  a  myth. 

On  January  5,  1066,  King  Edward  died,  and  on 
Thursday,  January  6th,  Earl  Harold  was  chosen 
as  king  by  the  Witan  assembled  at  Westminster 
for  the  Christmas  feast,  and  crowned  that  same 
day  by  Ealdred,  archbishop  of  York.  We  pos- 
sess a  circumstantial  account  of  the  last  days 
of  Edward,  written  only  a  few  years  after  these 
events,  which  describes  how  the  King,  within  an 
hour  of  his  death,  had  emphatically  commended 
his  wife  and  his  kingdom  to  the  care  of  Harold.1 

*  Vita  Edwardi  Confessoris  (R.  S.),  43*- 

158          William  the  Conqueror 

With  little  debate,  as  it  would  seem,  the  last 
wishes  of  the  last  king  of  the  line  of  Egbert  were 
carried  into  effect;  Harold  was  chosen  king  forth- 
with, and  on  the  same  day  the  sanction  of  the 
church  made  the  step  irrevocable.  England  was 
now  committed  to  the  rule  of  a  king  whose  title 
to  the  crown  depended  solely  upon  the  validity 
of  the  elective  principle,  and  whose  success  or 
failure  would  depend  upon  the  recognition  which 
this  principle  would  obtain  among  foreign  powers, 
and  upon  the  support  which  those  who  had 
chosen  to  accept  him  as  their  lord  were  prepared 
to  extend  to  him,  should  his  claim  be  challenged. 
Under  the  circumstances  the  choice  of  Harold 
was  perhaps  inevitable.  The  dying  wish  of  Ed- 
ward could  not  with  decency  be  disregarded;  the 
scene  of  the  election  lay  in  just  that  part  of  the 
country  where  the  interest  of  the  house  of  God- 
wine  was  at  its  strongest;  and  if  traditional 
custom  were  to  be  disregarded  and  the  royal  line 
forsaken  no  stronger  native  candidate  could  have 
been  found.  On  the  other  hand,  there  could  be 
no  doubt  that  the  event  of  that  memorable 
Epiphany  was  fraught  with  danger  on  every 
side.  Even  if  it  had  not  thrown  defiance  to  the 
most  formidable  prince  in  Europe,  it  founded  an 
ominous  precedent,  it  showed  that  the  royal 
dignity  was  not  beyond  the  grasp  of  an  aspiring 
subject,  it  exposed  the  crown  to  intrigues  of  a 
class  from  which  England,  weak  at  the  best  as 
was  its  political  structure,  had  hitherto  been 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession   159 

exempt.  The  Norman  Conquest  was  an  awful 
catastrophe;  but  at  least  it  saved  England  from 
the  perils  of  an  elective  monarchy. 

The  impression  which  the  coronation  of 
Harold  made  upon  the  politicians  of  Europe  was 
unmistakable.  From  Rome  to  Trondheim  every 
ruler  to  whom  the  concerns  of  England  were  a 
matter  of  interest  realised  that  a  revolutionary 
step  had  been  taken.  From  the  crude  narrative 
of  the  Latin  historian  of  the  Norwegian  kings, 
as  from  the  conventional  periods  of  the  papal 
chancery,  we  gather  that  the  accession  of  Harold 
was  regarded  as  an  act  of  usurpation,  although 
there  is  no  unanimity  as  to  the  personality  of 
the  rightful  heir  whom  he  had  supplanted.  Old 
claims,  long  dormant,  were  revived;  the  kings 
of  Norway  and  Denmark  remembered  that  Eng- 
land had  once  belonged  to  the  Scandinavian 
world.  Had  Edgar  the  Etheling  or  William 
of  Normandy  been  elected,  murmurings  from 
this  quarter  at  least  would  no  doubt  have  been 
heard,  but  they  would  have  lost  half  their  force: 
the  former  could  have  appealed  to  the  prevailing 
sentiment  in  favour  of  hereditary  right;  the  latter 
could  in  addition  have  poured  at  once  into  Eng- 
land a  military  force  sufficient  to  meet  all  pos- 
sible invaders  on  equal  terms.  Harold  had  neither 
of  these  safeguards,  and  his  oath  to  William  had 
given  to  the  most  powerful  section  of  his  oppo- 
nents an  intelligible  ground  on  which  to  base  their 
quarrel.  Seldom  in  any  country  has  a  new 

160          William  the  Conqueror 

dynasty  been  inaugurated  under  circumstances 
so  full  of  foreboding. 

All  this,  of  course,  meant  a  corresponding 
increase  of  strength  to  William.  Vague  as  is  our 
knowledge  of  the  negotiations  with  the  several 
powers  whose  good-will  was  desirable  for  his  en- 
terprise, we  can  see  that  he  brought  them  at 
least  into  a  general  attitude  of  friendly  neutrality. 
We  are  told  that  the  Emperor  Henry  IV.  prom- 
ised the  unqualified  support  of  Germany  if  it 
should  be  needed,1  and  also  that  Swegen  Estrith- 
son  of  Denmark  joined  William's  side,  though 
our  informant  adds  that  the  Danish  king  proved 
himself  in  effect  the  friend  of  William's  enemies. 
The  French  crown  was,  as  we  have  seen,  under 
the  influence  of  Baldwin  of  Flanders,  William's 
father-in-law;  and  so  long  as  a  war  of  succession 
distracted  Anjou,  William  need  fear  no  danger 
from  that  quarter.  Maine  was  a  dependency 
of  the  Norman  duchy.  Nothing,  in  fact,  in  Wil- 
liam's history  is  more  remarkable  than  the  way 
in  which,  at  the  very  moment  of  his  great  attempt, 
the  whole  political  situation  was  in  his  favour.  No 
invasion  of  England  would  have  been  possible  be- 
fore 1060,  when  King  Henry  of  France  and  Geoffrey 
Mattel  were  removed  from  William's  path,  while  the 
growth  of  King  Philip  to  manhood  and  the  forma- 
tion of  Flanders  into  an  aggressive  anti-Norman 
state  under  Robert  the  Frisian  would  have  in- 
creased William's  difficulties  a  thousandfold  if 
1  William  of  Poitiers,  123. 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession    161 

Edward  the  Confessor  had  lived  for  five  years 
longer.  In  great  part  William's  advantageous 
position  in  1066  was  due  to  his  own  statesmanship ; 
in  no  small  degree  it  resulted  from  the  discredit 
which  the  national  cause  of  England  suffered  in 
the  eyes  of  Europe  from  the  election  of  Harold; 
but  above  all  it  must  be  set  down  to  William's 
sheer  good  luck.  William  the  Conqueror,  like 
Napoleon,  might  have  believed  in  his  star  without 
incurring  the  reproach  of  undue  superstition. 

Of  all  William's  negotiations  that  which  was 
most  characteristic  of  the  temper  in  which  he 
pursued  his  claim  was  an  appeal  to  the  head  of 
the  church  to  decide  between  his  right  and  that 
of  Harold: 

"That  no  rashness  might  stain  his  righteous  cause 
he  seat  to  the  Pope,  formerly  Anselm,  bishop  of 
Lucca,  asserting  the  justice  of  the  war  he  had  under- 
taken with  all  the  eloquence  at  his  command.  Harold 
neglected  to  do  this;  either  because  he  was  too 
proud  by  nature,  or  because  he  mistrusted  his  own 
cause,  or  because  he  feared  that  his  messengers 
would  be  hindered  by  William  and  his  associates, 
who  were  watching  all  the  ports.  The  Pope  weighed 
the  arguments  of  both  sides,  and  then  sent  a  banner 
to  William  as  an  earnest  of  his  kingdom."  l 

The  nature  of  this  transaction  should  not  be 
misunderstood.  By  inviting  the  papal  arbitration 
William  was  in  no  sense  mortgaging  any  of  the 
royal  prerogatives  in  the  island  which  he  hoped 

1  William  of  Malrnesbury,  Gesta  Regnm,  ii.,  299. 

162          William  the  Conqueror 

to  conquer.  His  action,  that  is,  does  not  in  any 
way  resemble  the  step  which  his  descendent 
John  took  a  hundred  and  fifty  years  later,  when 
he  surrendered  his  kingdom  to  Innocent  III.  to 
be  held  thenceforward  as  a  papal  fief.1  William 
was  simply  submitting  his  cause  to  the  court 
which  was  the  highest  recognised  authority  in 
all  matters  relating  to  inheritance,  and  which  was 
doubly  competent  to  try  the  present  case,  involv- 
ing as  it  did  all  the  questions  of  laesio  fidei  which 
arose  out  of  Harold's  oath.  Nor  need  we  doubt 
that  the  verdict  given  represented  the  justice  of 
the  case  as  it  would  be  presented  to  the  pope  and 
his  advisers;  we  know  at  least,  on  the  authority  of 
Hildebrand  himself,  that  it  was  not  without  an 
acrimonious  discussion  that  judgment  was  given 
in  favour  of  William.  It  would  seem,  in  fact,  that 
it  required  all  the  personal  influence  that  Hilde- 
brand could  exercise  to  persuade  the  leaders  of 
the  church  to  commit  themselves  to  the  support 
of  claims  which,  if  prosecuted,  must  inevitably 
lead  to  bloodshed.  And  in  later  years  Hildebrand 
told  William  that  his  action  had  been  governed 
by  his  knowledge  of  the  latter's  character,  and  by 
the  hope  that  when  raised  to  a  higher  dignity  he 
would  continue  to  show  himself  a  dutiful  subject 
of  the  church.2  Hildebrand  added  that  he  had 

*  The  statement  that  William  promised,  if  successful, 
to  hold  England  as  a  fief  of  the  papacy  is  made  by  no  writer 
earlier  than  Wace,  who  has  no  authority  on  a  point  of  this 

*Monumenta  Gregoriana. 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession    163 

not  been  disappointed;  and  in  fact  the  attraction 
of  the  great  island  of  the  west  within  the  in- 
fluence of  the  ideas  of  the  reformed  papacy 
was  worth  the  suppression  of  a  few  scruples  on 
the  part  of  the  Curia. 

Seventy  years  afterwards  the  papal  court  was 
again  called  upon  to  adjudicate  in  a  dispute 
relating  to  the  succession  to  the  English  throne, 
and  this  under  circumstances  which  deserve 
notice  here  as  illustrating  the  nature  of  William's 
appeal.  In  1136,  immediately,  it  would  seem, 
after  the  coronation  of  Stephen,  his  rival,  the 
Empress  Matilda  sent  envoys  to  Pope  Innocent  II. 
to  protest  against  the  usurpation.  Stephen, 
wiser  in  his  generation  than  Harold,  replied  by 
sending  his  own  representative,  and  the  case  was 
argued  in  detail  before  a  council  specially  con- 
vened for  the  purpose  by  the  pope.  Just  as  in 
the  more  famous  episode  of  1066,  the  point  on 
which  the  plaintiff's  advocates  grounded  their 
case  was  the  fact  that  the  defendant  had  taken 
an  oath  to  secure  the  succession  of  his  rival; 
and  it  rested  with  the  pope  to  decide  whether 
this  oath  were  valid.  It  is  with  reference  to  this 
last  point  that  the  parallel  between  the  events 
of  1066  and  1136  ceases:  in  the  latter  case  the 
pope  by  refusing  to  give  judgment  tacitly  ac- 
quitted Stephen  of  the  guilt  of  perjury;  in  1066 
Harold's  neglect  to  lay  a  statement  of  his  case 
before  the  papal  court  produced  its  natural 
result  in  the  definite  decision  which  was  given 

164         William  the  Conqueror 

against  him.1  In  either  case  it  will  be  seen  that 
what 'is  submitted  to  the  Curia  is  a  question  of 
law,  not  of  politics;  the  pope  is  not  regarded  as 
having  any  right  to  dispose  of  the  English  crown; 
he  is  merely  asked  to  consider  the  respective 
titles  of  two  disputants. 

Armed  thus  with  the  sanction  of  the  church 
there  lay  before  William  the  serious  task  of 
raising  an  army  sufficiently  large  to  meet  the 
military  force  at  his  rival's  command  on  some- 
thing like  equal  terms.  Such  an  army  could  not 
possibly  be  derived  from  Normandy  alone,  great 
as  was  the  strength  of  the  duchy  in  comparison 
with  its  area.  However  favourable  the  general 
outlook  might  be  for  William's  plans,  he  cannot 
have  thought  for  an  instant  of  staking  the  whole 
resources  of  Normandy  upon  a  single  venture; 
a  venture  of  which  the  possible  results  might  be 
very  brilliant  but  of  which  the  immediate  risk 
was  very  great.  Nor  was  it  possible  for  William 
by  any  stretch  of  feudal  law  to  summon  his  vassals 
and  their  men  to  follow  him  across  the  Channel 
as  a  matter  of  right  and  duty ;  if  he  were  to  obtain 
their  support  he  was  bound  to  place  the  expedition 
before  them  as  a  voluntary  enterprise.  Thus 
stated  there  can  have  been  little  doubt  as  to  the 
response  which  would  be  made  to  his  appeal. 
The  Norman  conquest  of  Naples  and  the  Norman 
exploits  in  Spain  had  proclaimed  to  the  world 
the  mighty  exploits  of  which  the  race  was  capable, 

«  Round,  Geoffrey  de  Mandeville,  8, 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession    165 

nor  need  we  believe  that  the  Normans  themselves 
mistrusted  their  reputation.  And  although  Wil- 
liam's contemporary  biographer,  anxious  to  dis- 
play the  magnanimity  of  his  hero,  has  represented 
the  latter's  subjects  as  viewing  the  enterprise 
with  dismay,1  it  is  not  really  probable  that  the 
Norman  knighthood  was  seriously  deterred  from 
adventuring  itself  for  -unlimited  gains  in  the  rich 
and  neighbouring  island  by  the  prospect  of  having 
to  fight  hard  for  them. 

In  the  early  part  of  1066,  but  most  probably 
after  the  termination  of  William's  cause  at  Rome, 
a  council  of  the  Norman  baronage  met  at  Lille- 
bonne2  to  discuss  the  proposed  invasion  of  Eng- 
land. It  is  plain  that  what  most  exercised  the 
minds  of  William  and  his  barons  was  the  difficulty 
of  building,  equipping  and  manning  a  number  of 
ships  sufficient  for  the  transport  of  the  army 
within  a  reasonable  time.  In  fact  it  seems  prob- 
able that  one  special  purpose  of  the  council  was 
to  ascertain  the  number  of  ships  which  each  baron 
was  prepared  to  contribute  towards  the  fleet — 
a  matter  which  lay  altogether  outside  the  general 
question  of  military  service  and  could  only  be 
solved  by  amicable  agreement  between  the  duke 
and  his  vassals  taken  individually.  William 
stipulated  that  the  ships  should  be  ready  within 
the  year;  a  demand  which  to  some  at  least  ap- 
peared impossible  of  fulfilment;  and,  indeed,  the 

*  William  of  Poitiers,  124. 

*  William  of  Malmesbury,  Gesta  Regain. 

166          William  the  Conqueror 

creation  of  an  entire  fleet  of  transport  vessels 
within  six  months  is  a  wonderful  illustration  of 
the  energy  with  which  the  Norman  nobility 
adopted  the  cause  of  the  duke.  Transport  vessels 
the  ships  were,  and  nothing  else,  as  is  evident 
from  the  representation  of  them  in  the  Bayeux 
tapestry,  and  we  are  bound  to  conclude  that  it 
was  well  for  William  that  his  passage  of  the  Chan- 
nel met  with  no  serious  opposition  on  the  part 
of  Harold.  As  might  be  expected,  the  number 
of  ships  actually  provided  is  very  variously  given 
by  different  writers.  Curiously  enough  the  most 
probable,  because  the  lowest,  estimate  is  made 
by  a  very  late  authority,  the  Norman  poet  Wace, 
who  says  that  when  he  was  a  boy  his  father  told 
him  that  six  hundred  and  ninety-six  ships  assem- 
bled at  St.  Valery.  There  have  also  come  down 
to  us  several  statements  of  the  contribution  which 
the  greater  barons  of  Normandy  made  to  the  fleet, 
which  are  probably  true  in  substance  although 
the  lists  differ  among  themselves  and  the  totals 
which  they  imply  exceed  the  modest  figures  pre- 
sented by  Wace.1  It  would  appear  that  William's 
two  half-brothers  headed  the  list;  Robert  of 
Mortain  giving  a  hundred  and  twenty  ships,  Odo 
of  Bayeux  a  hundred.  The  counts  of  Evreux  and 
Eu,  both  members  of  the  ducal  family,  furnished 
eighty  and  sixty  ships  respectively.  William 
Fitz  Osbera,  Roger  de  Beaumont,  Roger  de 

*  The  list  followed  here  is  that  printed  by  Giles  as  an  ap- 
pendix to  the  Brevis  Relatio.   Scriptores,  p.  a  i . 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession    167 

Montgomery,  and  Hugh  d'Avranches  gave  sixty 
ships  each;  Hugh  de  Montfort,  fifty.  Two  men 
who  do  not  appear  in  the  subsequent  history, 
a  certain  Fulk  the  Lame  and  one  Gerald,  who, 
although  styled  the  seneschal,  is  difficult  to 
identify  at  William's  court,  gave  forty  ships  each. 
Thirty  ships  were  given  by  Walter  Giffard  and  by 
Vulgrin,  bishop  of  Le  Mans;  and  Nicholas,  abbot 
of  St.  Ouen,  and  the  son  of  Duke  Richard  III. 
contributed  twenty.  An  interesting  figure  in 
the  list  is  Remi,  the  future  bishop  of  Lincoln, 
who  in  1066  was  only  almoner  of  Fecamp  abbey, 
but  nevertheless  provided  a  ship  and  manned 
it  with  twenty  knights.  The  Duchess  Matilda 
herself  supplied  the  ship,  named  the  Mora, 
which  was  to  carry  her  husband.  One  fact  stands 
out  clearly  enough  on  the  surface  of  this  list — 
the  great  bulk  of  the  fleet  was  supplied  by  William's 
kinsmen  and  by  men  whom  we  know  to  have 
enjoyed  his  immediate  confidence,  and  it  is  sig- 
nificant that  we  can  recognise  in  this  brief  account 
just  those  men  who  received  the  greatest  spoils 
of  the  conquered  land.  Among  these  few  names 
the  future  earldoms  of  Kent,  Shrewsbury,  Here- 
ford, Chester,  Buckingham,  Warwick,  and  Leices- 
ter are  represented.  Doubtless  the  rest  of  the 
Norman  nobility  in  one  way  or  another  con- 
tributed in  proportion  to  its  wealth,  but  we 
have  just  accounted  for  nearly  eight  hundred 
vessels,  and  it  is  dear  that  in  the  all-important 
matter  of  the  fleet  William  found  his  fullest  sup- 

168          William  the  Conqueror 

port  among  his  relatives  and  personal  friends. 
How  far  this  statement  would  hold  good  in 
relation  to  the  army  of  the  Conquest  is  a  question 
which  we  have  no  detailed  means  of  answering. 
Doubtless  the  lords  of  Montfort,  Longueville, 
Montgomery,  and  their  fellows  brought  the  full 
complement  of  their  vassals  to  the  duke's  muster, 
but  the  essential  fact  in  the  composition  of 
William's  army  lies  in  the  width  of  the  area  from 
which  it  was  recruited.  From  every  quarter 
of  the  French  kingdom,  and  from  not  a  few  places 
beyond  its  borders,  volunteers  crowded  in  to 
swell  the  Norman  host.  Brittany  supplied  the 
largest  number  of  such  volunteers,  and  next  to 
Brittany  came  Flanders,  but  the  fame  of  William's 
expedition  had  spread  beyond  the  Alps,  and  the 
Norman  states  in  South  Italy  and  Sicily  sent 
their  representatives.1  And  this  composite  char- 
acter of  the  army  which  fought  at  Hastings 
had  deep  and  abiding  results.  A  hundred  years 
after  the  Conquest,  Henry  II.  will  still  be  sending 
out  writs  addressed  to  his  barons  and  lieges 
"French  and  English,"  and  the  terminology 
here  expresses  a  fact  of  real  importance.  The 
line  of  racial  distinction  which  was  all-important 
in  later  eleventh-century  England  was  not  be- 
tween Englishmen  and  Normans,  but  between 
Englishmen  and  Frenchmen.  England  fell,  not 
before  any  province,  however  powerful,  of  the 

»••  » Guy  of  Amiens,  34:  "  Appulus  et  '.Caluber,  Siculus  quibus 
jacula  fervet." 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession    169 

French  kingdom,  but,  in  effect,  before  the  whole  of 
French-speaking  Europe,  and,  by  her  fall,  she  her- 
self became  part  of  that  whole.  For  nearly  a  hun- 
dred years  England  had  been  oscillating  between 
the  French  and  the  Scandinavian  world ;  the  events 
of  1066  carried  her  finally  within  the  influence  of 
Southern  ideas  in  religion,  politics,  and  culture. 

The  French  auxiliaries  of  William  have  often 
been  described  as  adventurers,  and  adventurers 
in  a  sense  no  doubt  they  were.  But  the  word 
should  not  be  pressed  so  as  to  imply  that  they 
belonged  to  a  social  rank  inferior  either  to  their 
Norman  associates  or  to  the  English  thegnhood 
whom  they  were  to  displace, — there  should  be  no 
talk  of  "grooms  and  scullions  from  beyond  the 
sea"1  in  this  connection.  Socially  there  was 
little  to  distinguish  a  knight  or  noble  from  Brit- 
tany or  Picardy  from  Normans  like  Robert  d'Oilly 
or  Henry  de  Ferrers;  nor,  rude  as  their  ideas  of 
comfort  and  refinement  must  seem  to  us,  have 
we  any  warrant  for  supposing  that  Wigod  of 
Wallingford  or  Tochi  the  son  of  Outi  had  been  in 
advance  of  either  in  this  respect.  Like  the  Nor- 
mans themselves  the  Frenchmen  varied  indefi- 
nitely in  point  of  origin.  Some  of  them  were  the 
younger  sons  of  great  houses,  some  belonged  to 
the  lesser  baronage,  some  to  the  greater;  Count 
Eustace  of  Bologne  might  by  courtesy  be  described 
as  a  reigning  prince.  Some  of  the  most  famous 
names  in  the  succeeding  history  can  be  traced 

"  Kingsley,  Hereward  the  Wake,  ed.  1889,  p.  368. 

170          William  the  Conqueror 

to  this  origin— Walter  Tirel  was  lord  of  Poix  in 
Ponthieu,  Gilbert  of  Ghent  was  the  ancestor 
of  the  medieval  earls  of  Lincoln.  But  the  best 
way  of  realising  the  prevalence  of  this  non- 
Norman  element  among  the  conquerors  of  Eng- 
land is  to  work  through  one  of  the  schedules 
which  the  compilers  of  Domesday  Book  prefixed 
to  the  survey  of  each  county,  giving  the  names  of 
its  land-owners,  and  to  note  the  proportion  of 
"Frenchmen"  to  pure  Normans.  In  North- 
amptonshire, for  example,  among  forty-three  lay 
tenants  there  occur  six  Flemings,  three  Bretons, 
and  two  Picards,  and  Northamptonshire  in  this 
respect  is  a  typical  county. 

At  or  about  the  time  of  the  council  of  Lille- 
bonne  there  is  reason  to  believe  that  messages 
were  passing  between  William  and  Harold  con- 
cerning the  fulfilment  of  the  fateful  oath.  It 
is  fairly  certain  that  William  demanded  the  sur- 
render of  the  crown  and  Harold's  immediate 
marriage  to  his  daughter,  agreeing  in  return  to 
confirm  him  in  his  earldom  of  Wessex,  which 
last  is  probably  what  is  meant  when  our  rhetorical 
informants  tell  us  that  William  promised  to  grant 
half  the  kingdom  to  his  rival.  Such  negotiations 
were  bound  to  fall  through;  Harold  had  gone  too 
far  to  withdraw,  even  if  he  had  been  so  minded, 
and  William's  object  in  making  these  proposals 
could  only  have  been  to  maintain  in  the  eyes  of  the 
world  the  appearance  of  a  lawful  claimant  deprived 
of  his  inheritance.  Also  we  may  be  quite  sure 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession   171 

that  the  building  of  the  fleet  was  not  interrupted 
during  the  progress  of  the  negotiations. 

The  difficulties  of  Harold's  reign  began  early. 
The  weakness  of  his  position  was  revealed  at  the 
outset  by  the  refusal  of  Northumbria  to  accept 
him  as  king,  a  refusal  very  possibly  prompted  by 
Earl  Morcar,  who  could  not  be  expected  to  feel 
much  loyalty  towards  the  new  dynasty.  By 
making  a  special  journey  to  York,  Harold  suc- 
ceeded in  silencing  the  opposition  for  the  moment, 
and  his  marriage  with  Ealdgyth,  the  sister  of 
Earls  Edwin  and  Morcar,  which  may  be  dated  with 
probability  to  about  this  time,1  was  very  possibly 
intended  to  conciliate  the  great  midland  house. 
It  would  certainly  serve  as  a  definite  assertion 
that  Harold  had  no  intention  of  fulfilling  that 
part  of  his  oath  to  William  which  pledged  him 
to  a  marriage  with  the  duke's  daughter,  nor  can 
we  doubt  that  Harold  realised  the  expediency 
of  providing  an  heir  to  his  crown  with  the  least 
possible  delay.  At  any  rate  he  seems  to  have 
been  enjoying  a  few  weeks  of  tranquillity  after 
his  visit  to  York  when  he  received  an  unmis- 
takable intimation  of  the  coming  storm,  which 
was  none  the  less  ominous  because  its  immediate 
results  were  insignificant. 

Tostig,  the  dispossessed  earl  of  Northumbria, 
had  spent  the  winter  of  1065-6,  as  we  have  seen, 
with  Baldwin  of  Flanders,2  a  fact  which  is 

i  This  was  Freeman's  final  view.    A".  C.t  iii.,  625. 
=  Florence  of  Worcester,  1066. 

172          William  the  Conqueror 

suggestive  when  we  remember  the  relations 
between  Baldwin  and  William  of  Normandy. 
It  is  evident  that  Tostig  was  spending  the  period 
of  his  banishment  in  forming  schemes  for  his 
restoration,  and  the  fact  that  his  brother  on 
becoming  king  dare  not  or  would  not  recall  him 
made  him  inevitably  a  willing  tool  of  William's 
policy.  Accordingly,  early  in  1066  Tostig  moved 
from  Flanders  Into  Normandy,  appeared  at  the 
duke's  court,  and  urged  him  on  to  an  invasion  of 
England.  It  is  quite  possible  that  he  was  present 
at  the  assembly  of  Lillebonne;  one  writer  goes  so 
far  as  to  say  that  the  arguments  of  Tostig  con- 
tributed largely  to  persuade  the  Norman  nobility 
to  undertake  the  enterprise,1  and  William  may 
have  derived  some  little  advantage  from  the  fact 
that  he  could  point  to  one  man  of  high  rank  among 
the  English  nation  as  an  adherent.  But  it  would 
seem  that  Tostig  was  unwilling  to  await  the 
development  of  his  host's  plans,  and  in  May  he 
set  off  from  the  Cotentin  on  an  expedition  of 
his  own  intended  to  ravage  the  English  coasts. 
He  landed  first  in  the  Isle  of  Wight,  where  the 
inhabitants  bought  him  off  with  money  and  pro- 
visions, and  then  sailed,  ravaging  the  coast  of 
Sussex  and  Kent,  until  he  came  to  Sandwich.  At 
Sandwich  he  raised  a  small  force  of  sailors,  but 
at  the  same  time  the  news  of  his  expedition  was 
brought  to  his  brother  in  London,  who  at  once 
set  out  for  the  Kentish  coast.  Before  he  could 

1  Ordericus  Vitalis,  £.,120. 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession  1 73 

reach  Sandwich,  however,  Tostig  had  started 
northward  again  and  finally  entered  the  Humber 
with  sixty  ships,  harrying  the  coast  of  Lindsey. 
Upon  receiving  the  news  Earls  Edwin  and  Mor- 
car,  having  called  out  the  local  fyrd,  inarched 
with  it  to  the  Humber  and  compelled  Tostig  to 
take  refuge  in  his  ships.  At  this  point  Tostig 
was  deserted  by  the  men  of  Sandwich  whom  he 
had  impressed,  and,  his  fleet  being  now  reduced 
to  twelve  ships,  he  made  his  way  to  Scotland 
and  spent  the  summer,  we  are  told,  with  King 

Tostig's  futile  raid  has  an  interest  of  its  own 
in  the  glimpse  which  it  gives  us  of  the  English 
defences  just  before  the  Norman  invasion.  The 
evidence  of  Domesday  Book  shows  that  an 
Anglo-Saxon  king  had  some  sort  of  naval  force 
permanently  at  his  disposal,  and  we  know  that 
Harold  built  and  maimed  a  number  of  ships  to 
keep  the  Channel  against  his  Norman  rival,  but* 
from  whatever  cause,  the  English  navy  in  this 
critical  year  proved  itself  miserably  ineffective.2 
A  mere  adventurer,  with  no  foreign  aid  of  any 
consequence  and  no  local  support  in  England, 
Tostig  could  still  spread  devastation  with  impu- 
nity along  half  the  English  coast.  The  story 

1  Chronicles  of  Abingdon,  Peterborough,  and  Worcester,  1066. 

2  John  of  Oxenedes,   a   thirteenth-century  monk  of  St. 
Benet  of  Holme,  asserts  that  Harold  entrusted  the  defence 
of  the  coast  to  jElfwold,  abbot  of  that  house.  The  choice  of 
an  East  Anglian  abbot  suggests  that  his  appointment  was 
intended  as  a  precaution  against  the  Scandinavian  danger. 

174         William  the  Conqueror 

of  Tostig's  expedition  reads  like  a  revival  of  one 
of  the  Danish  raids  of  the  ninth  century — the 
enemy  sacks  a  town,  the  fyrd  are  summoned  and 
hurry  to  the  spot  to  find  that  the  raiders  have 
just  left  to  plunder  the  nearest  unprotected 
locality.  Clearly  the  coast  defences  of  England, 
for  all  the  bitter  experience  of  the  Danish  wars, 
had  made  no  real  advance  since  the  days  of 
Alfred ;  and  it  is  not  unfair  to  remark  that  this 
fact  reflects  little  credit  upon  the  statesmanship 
of  Harold.  He  had  himself  been  an  exile  and 
had  made  a  bid  for  power  by  a  piratical  descent 
upon  England  very  similar  to  the  present  expedi- 
tion of  Tostig's.  If  he  really  possessed  the  power, 
during  the  last  ten  years  of  the  Confessor's  reign, 
with  which  he  is  usually  credited,  it  should  not 
have  been  impossible  for  him,  to  create  a  naval 
force  strong  enough  to  counteract  such  attempts 
for  the  future.  The  events  of  1066  are  an  excel- 
lent illustration  of  the  influence  of  sea  power  in 
history;  wind  and  weather  permitting,  an  invader 
could  land  an  army  in  England  at  whatever 
time  and  place  best  suited  hi™.  As  for  Tostig 
himself,  his  expedition  had  been  ignominious 
enough,  but  before  the  year  was  out  he  was  to 
earn  immortality  by  his  association  with  the 
last  great  Scandinavian  invasion  of  England  and 
by  the  part  which  he  is  made  to  play  in  the 
magnificent  saga  of  Stanifordbridge. 

The  summer  visit  of  Tostig  to  Scotland  must 
have  been  interrupted  by  another  voyage  of 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession   1 75 

greater  distance  and  followed  by  most  momentous 
consequences.  Very  possibly  he  was  dissatisfied 
with  the  amount  of  immediate  support  which  his 
claims  had  received  from  William  of  Normandy; 
at  all  events  he  now  made  application  to  a  prince 
of  higher  rank,  more  restless  spirit,  and  still  more 
varied  experience  in  the  art  of  war.  Although 
there  are  chronological  difficulties  in  the  story 
which  cannot  be  discussed  here,  there  can  be 
little  real  doubt  that  Tostig  in  person  sailed  to 
Norway,  was  received  by  Harold  Hardrada, 
and  incited  the  most  warlike  king  in  Europe  to 
an  invasion  of  England.  As  a  matter  of  fact  it 
is  probable  that  Harold  Hardrada,  like  William 
of  Normandy,  would  have  made  his  attempt 
even  if  Tostig  had  never  come  upon  the  scene; 
the  passage  of  the  English  crown  to  a  subject 
house,  coming  at  a  time  when  there  was  a  tem- 
porary lull  in  the  chronic  warfare  between  the 
three  Scandinavian  powers,  might  remind  ^the 
king  of  Norway  that  he  could  himself,  if  he  chose, 
put  forward  a  decent  pretext  for  an  adventure 
which  would  be  certain  to  bring  him  fame  and 
might  rival  the  exploits  of  Swegen  and  Cnut.1 
The  extent  of  the  preparations  which  Harold 
Hardrada  had  evidently  made  for  his  enterprise 
would  of  itself  suggest  that  they  were  independent 
of  the  representations  of  the  banished  earl  of 
Northumbria,  while  on  the  other  hand  Tostig 
plays  too  prominent  a  part  in  the  Norwegian 
*  See  Introduction,  above,  page  48. 

176         William  the  Conqueror 

traditions  of  the  expedition  for  us  to  reject  his 
voyage  to  Norway  as  mere  myth,  and  his  presence 
may  have  had  some  influence  in  determining 
the  objective  of  the  invaders  when  once  they  had 
touched  the  shores  of  England. 

After  making  his  appeal  to  Harold  Hardrada, 
Tostig  returned  to  Scotland  and  began  to  raise 
a  force  of  volunteers  there  on  his  own  account. 
Early  in  September  the  king  of  Norway  set  sail 
from  the  Sogne  Fiord  near  Bergen,  due  west  to 
the  subject  earldom  of  the  Orkneys  and  Shet- 
lands,  where  he  was  joined  by  Paul  and  Erling, 
the  two  joint  earls,  and  by  a  large  reinforcement 
of  the  islanders.1  From  the  Orkneys  Harold 
sailed  on  without  recorded  incident  as  far  as  the 
Tyne,  where  he  was  joined,  according  to  agreement, 
by  Tostig  with  his  Scottish  auxiliaries,  and  then 
the  combined  force  made  for  the  Yorkshire  coast 
and  began  offensive  operations  by  a  harrying 
of  Cleveland.  Passing  southward  the  invaders 
encountered  an  ineffectual  resistance  at  Scar- 
borough and  along  the  coast  of  Holderness,  but 
were  able  to  round  Spurn  Head  without  any 
opposition  from  the  English  fleet.  The  Humber 
and  the  inland  waters  of  Yorkshire  lay  open  to 
Harold,  and  it  would  seem  that  as  the  Norwegian 
fleet  sailed  up  the  Ouse  the  English  fleet  retreated 
up  the  Wharf e,  for  Harold  chose  to  disembark 
at  Riccall,  a  village  some  five  miles  below  the 
confluence  of  these  rivers.  Riccall  was  chosen  as 

i  Heimskringla,  page  165. 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession   177 

the  headquarters  of  the  fleet,  which  could  easily 
block  at  this  point  any  attempt  on  the  part  of 
the  English  vessels  to  break  out  to  the  open  sea 
while  Harold  and  his  army  marched  straight 
on  York.  At  Fulford,  two  miles  from  the  city, 
the  invaders  met  the  fyrd  of  Yorkshire  under 
Earls  Edwin  and  Morcar,  and  the  defeat  of  the 
local  force  led  to  the  surrender  of  York  four  days 
afterwards.  The  city  was  not  put  to  the  sack; 
hostages1  were  exchanged  between  Harold  and 
the  men  of  York,  and  it  was  very  possibly  to 
await  the  delivery  of  further  sureties  from  the  rest 
of  the  shire  that  the  king  moved  out  of  his  new 
conquest  to  the  otherwise  undistinguished  village 
of  Stamfordbridge. 

On  the  following  day  King  Harold  of  England 
himself  arrived  at  York.  News  of  what  was 
happening  in  Yorkshire  must  have  been  brought 
to  London  with  extraordinary  rapidity,  for  the 
battles  of  Fulford  and  Stamfordbridge  were 
fought,  as  men  remarked  at  the  time,  within 
five  days  of  each  other.  Harold  possessed  the 
permanent  nucleus  of  an  army  in  the  famous  body 
of  "huscarles"  who  resided  at  his  court,  and  with 
them  he  dashed  up  the  great  road  from  London 
to  York,  taking  along  with  him  so  much  of  the 
local  militia  of  the  counties  through  which  he 
passed  as  happened  to  fall  in  with  his  line  of 
inarch.  At  Tadcaster,  where  the  north  road 
crosses  the  Wharfe,  he  found  and  inspected  the 

i  Simeon  of  Durham,  1066. 

178         William  the  Conqueror 

English  "fleet,"  and  on  Monday,  the  25th  of 
September,  one  day  after  Harold  Hardrada  had 
entered  the  capital  of  Northtunbria,  it  opened 
its  gates  to  Harold  of  England.  At  this  time 
Harold  can  have  done  scarcely  more  than  pass 
through  the  city  for  the  same  day  he  covered  the 
ten  miles  which  separate  York  from  Stamford- 
bridge  and  fell  unexpectedly  upon  the  Norwegian 
army  scattered  in  utter  unpreparedness  along 
either  bank  of  the  Derwent.  The  Norwegians  on 
the  right,  or  York,  bank  of  the  Derwent  were 
driven  into  the  river  by  the  English  attack,  and 
then  occurred  a  strange  incident  of  which  the 
record,  curiously  enough,  is  only  preserved  in  the 
chronicle  of  the  distant  monastery  of  Abingdon. 
It  was  essential  for  the  English  to  get  possession 
of  the  bridge  which  spanned  the  unf ordable  river 
before  the  Norwegians  on  the  left  bank  should 
have  time  to  form  up  in  line  of  battle,  and  we  are 

"There  was  one  of  the  Norwegians  who  withstood 
the  Englishmen  so  that  they  could  not  climb  over 
the  bridge  and  gain  the  victory.  Then  one  of  the 
Englishmen  shot  with  an  arrow  and  that  did  nothing, 
and  then  came  another  under  the  bridge  and  stabbed 
him  underneath  his  coat  of  mail,  and  then  Harold 
king  of  the  English  came  over  the  bridge  and  his 
army  with  him." i 

1  This  episode  forms  the  last  entry  in  the  Abingdon  ver- 
sion of  the  Chronicle,  and  it  is  described  in  a  northern 

Problem  of  the  English  Succession  179 

We  have  no  details  of  the  straggle  which  must 
have  raged  along  the  rising  ground  on  which  the 
modern  village  of  Stamfordbridge  stands,  nor  do 
we  know  with  certainty  how  Harold  Hardrada  and 
Tostig  fell,  but  it  is  clear  that  the  result  of  that 
day's  fighting  was  an  unequivocal  victory  for  the 
English;  the  men  who  had  been  left  in  charge 
of  the  Norwegian  fleet  at  Riccall  were  willing  to 
accept  peace  at  Harold's  hands  and  were  allowed 
to  depart  with  their  ships  to  Norway.  Harold 
indeed  in  this  great  fight  had  proved  himself  a 
worthy  inheritor  of  the  crown  of  the  West  Saxon 
kings,  and  it  was  a  strange  destiny  which  ruled 
that  the  last  victory  in  the  struggle  of  three  cen- 
turies between  Englishman  and  Northman  should 
fall  to  no  descendant  of  Egbert  or  Alfred,  but  to 
an  English  king  who  was  half  a  Northman  himself 
by  blood.  But  a  stranger  destiny  was  it  which 
ruled  that  one  week  should  see  the  overthrow  of  the 
last  great  invader  from  the  north  and  the  opening 
of  a  new  era  for  England  in  the  entry  of  the  greater 
invader  from  beyond  the  Channel.  Harold  Har- 
drada fell  at  Stamfordbridge  on  Monday,  William 
of  Normandy  landed  at  Pevensey  on  Thursday. 

Penny  of  Harold  Hardrada 



THE  spring  and  summer  of  1066  must  have 
been  a  time  of  restless  activity  on  the  part 
of  William  and  of  those  who  were  associated  with 
him  in  the  preparations  for  the  great  enter- 
prise of  the  autumn.  The  building  of  the  fleet 
was  being  pushed  forward,  and  volunteers  from 
kindred  states  were  continually  arriving  to  be 
incorporated  in  the  Norman  army;  this  much 
we  may  infer  from  the  fact  that  by  August  both 
fleet  and  army  were  ready  for  the  expedition, 
but  we  know  scarcely  anything  as  to  William's 
own  movements  in  the  interval.  On  the  fifteenth 
of  June  a  council  was  held  at  Bonneville  at  which 
Lanfranc  was  appointed  abbot  of  William's  new 
foundation  of  St.  Stephen's  Caen,  and  three 
days  later  Cicely,  the  eldest  daughter  of  William 
and  Matilda,  was  formally  dedicated  to  the  relig- 
ious life  at  the  consecration  of  her  mother's  house, 
the  sister  monastery  of  the  Holy  Trinity.  The 
motives  which  prompted  the  duke  and  duchess 
to  complete  their  religious  undertakings  were 
widely  felt  among  the  Norman  baronage.  The 
conquerors  of  England  appear  in  a  somewhat 
unaccustomed  light  as  we  read  the  charters  by 


Battle  of  Hastings  181 

which  they  gave  or  confirmed  land,  each  to  his 
favoured  monastery,  "when  Duke  William  was 
setting  out  across  the  sea."  It  was  fully  real- 
ised that  the  enterprise  might  end  in  utter  dis- 
aster; the  prudent  abbot  of  Marmoutier,  for 
instance,  in  case  of  accidents,  secured  from  Rob- 
ert, the  heir  of  Normandy,  at  his  father's  re- 
quest, a  confirmation  of  all  the  grants  which 
the  latter  had  made  to  the  house  during  his 

The  temporal  affairs  of  Normandy  were  also 
discreetly  arranged  at  this  time.  Matilda  was 
appointed  regent,  and  was  supported  by  a  council 
presided  over  by  Roger  de  Beaumont,  a  man  of 
age  and  experience,  and  a  personal  friend  of  the 
duke.  No  doubt  if  William  had  perished  in 
England  Robert  would  have  succeeded  him,  but, 
although  he  was  now  of  sufficient  age  to  make  a 
voluntary  confirmation  of  his  father's  grants  of 
land,  he  was  clearly  not  old  enough  to  undertake 
the  government  of  the  duchy  during  an  inter- 
regnum. The  fact  that  the  expedition  itself 
provided  employment  for  the  great  mass  of  the 
fighting  men  of  Normandy  would  promise  a  quiet 
rule  for  Matilda  and  her  advisers,  nor  indeed 
do  we  hear  of  any  disturbances  taking  place 
in  the  duchy  while  William  was  across  the 

Before  the  dose  of  August  the  fleet  was  ready 

*  Round,  Calendar  of  Documents  preserved  in  France, 
No.  1713. 

1 82          William  the  Conqueror 

at  last,  and  lay  at  the  mouth  of  the  Dive  ready 
to  set  sail  at  any  moment.1    The  army  also  was 
ready  for  embarkation,  and  the  only  thing  which 
was  lacking  to  the  expedition  was  a  south  wind 
to  carry  the  fleet  to  the  Sussex  coast.    But  for 
six  weeks  at  least  that  south  wind  refused  to 
blow,  and  every  week  of  delay  increased  William's 
difficulties  a  hundredfold.     Nothing  could  have 
been  more  discouraging  to  an  army  of  adventurers 
than  week  after  week  of  compulsory  inaction; 
and  the  fact  that  William  was  able  to  keep  perfect 
order,  among  a  force  part  only  of  which  owed 
direct  allegiance  to  him  as  feudal  lord,  suggests  that 
he  possessed  qualities  of  leadership  which  were 
not  very  common  among  the  captains  of  his  day. 
At  more  than  one  crisis  in  his  life  William  had 
already  shown  that  he  could  possess  his  soul  in 
patience  until  the  moment  arrived  at  which  it 
was  possible  to  strike,  and  he  must  have  succeeded 
in  imparting  something  of  this  spirit  to  his  troops 
in  their  vigil  by  the  Dive.    In  the  more  definite 
work  of  commissariat  we  know  that  he  proved 
himself  a  master;   for  no  shortage  of  provisions 
was  felt  at  any  time  during  the  unexpected  delay, 
and  few  eleventh-century  armies  could  have  re- 
mained for  a  month  in  the  same  quarters  without 
being  driven  to  find  their  own  means  of  subsistence 
in  plunder.     William's  biographer  was  justified 
in  remarking  on  the  fact  that  the  unarmed  folk 
of  the  neighbourhood  could  pass  to  and  fro  without 

«  William  of  Poitiers,  122. 

Battle  of  Hastings  183 

trembling  when  they  saw  a  body  of  soldiers; l  and 
before  the  task  of  provisioning  the  army  by 
regular  means  had  become  an  impossibility,  a 
west  wind  served  to  carry  the  fleet  to  a  point 
which  offered  a  shorter  passage  across  into  England 
than  that  which  was  presented  by  its  original 
station  on  the  Dive. 

Within  the  county  of  Ponthieu,  which  had 
become  a  member  of  the  Norman  group  of  vassal 
states  when  Count  Guy  became  William's  "man" 
after  the  battle  of  Mortemer,  the  estuary  of  the 
Somme  supplied  an  excellent  natural  harbour 
beneath  the  town  of  Saint  Valery.  The  passage 
from  the  mouth  of  the  Dive  seems  to  have  been 
accomplished  without  incident,  and  William  and 
his  forces  took  possession  of  their  new  quarters 
on  the  twelfth  day  of  September.  For  more  than 
a  fortnight  the  situation  did  not  seem  to  have 
improved  in  any  way ;  the  wind  which  was  carrying 
Harold  Hardrada  down  the  coast  of  Yorkshire 
kept  William  locked  in  the  mouth  of  the  Somme. 
The  weather  was  cold  and  squally  and  we  have 
a  contemporary  description  of  the  way  in  which 
William  kept  watching  the  weathercock  on  the 
church  tower  and  of  his  joy  if  for  a  moment  the 
gale  drove  it  to  point  northward.2  The  strain  of 
suspense  was  now  beginning  to  tell  upon  the 

1  *  The  common  soldiers,  as  frequently  happens,  began 

»  W.  P.,  123.  "Turmasmilitumcernens,  noneshomescens." 

2  Guy  of  Amiens,  ed.  Giles,  58. 

1 84          William  the  Conqueror 

to  murmur  in  their  tents  that  the  man  must  be  mad 
to  wish  to  conquer  a  foreign  country,  that  his  father 
had  proposed  to  do  the  same  and  had  been  baffled 
in  the  same  way,  that  it  was  the  destiny  of  the  family 
to  try  for  things  beyond  their  reach  and  to  find  God 
for  their  enemy."  * 

It  was  clearly  necessary  to  do  something  to  re- 
lieve the  prevailing  tension,  and  the  expedient 
chosen  was  characteristic  of  the  time;  the  relics 
of  the  patron  saint  of  the  town  were  brought  with 
great  solemnity  out  of  the  church,  and  the  casket 
which  contained  them  was  exhibited  to  receive 
the  prayers  and  offerings  of  the  duke  and  his  army. 
The  result  was  a  convincing  proof  of  the  virtue 
of  the  bones  of  St.  Valery;  without  further  delay 
the  south  wind  blew. 2 

The  same  day  saw  the  embarkation  of  the 
Norman  army,  the  work  being  carried  through 
as  quickly  as  possible  in  evident  fear  that  the  wind 
might  slip  round  again  to  its  former  quarter. 
Night  was  falling  before  all  was  ready,  and  before 
the  duke,  after  a  final  visit  to  the  church  of  St. 
Valery,  had  given  his  last  orders  on  the  Norman 
shore.  It  was  important  that  the  fleet  should 
be  prevented  from  scattering  in  the  darkness,  so 
each  vessel  was  ordered  to  carry  a  light,  a  lantern 
of  special  power  adorning  the  masthead  of  the 
duke's  own  ship.  With  the  same  object  it  was 
directed  that  the  fleet  should  anchor  as  soon  as 

»  William  of  Matoesbury,  Gesta  Regum,  ii.,  300. 
*  William  of  Poitiers,  125. 

Battle  of  Hastings  185 

it  was  clear  of  the  estuary  of  the  Somme,  and 
await  further  orders.  Through  the  dead  of  night 
the  fleet  hung  outside  the  harbour,  and  it  was  still 
dark  when  the  expedition  ventured  out  at  last 
into  the  open  waters  of  the  Channel.  The  great 
body  of  the  ships,  each  of  which  carried  a  heavy 
load  of  horses  in  addition  to  its  freight  of  men- 
at-arms,  was  inevitably  outstripped  by  the  un- 
impeded galley  which  bore  William  to  his 
destiny;  and  when  the  dawn  began  to  break,  the 
duke  found  himself  out  of  sight  of  the  rest  of  the 
fleet,  and  not  yet  within  view  of  the  English 
shore.  In  these  circumstances  William  cast 
anchor  and  breakfasted  "as  it  had  been  in  his 
own  hall,"  says  one  of  his  companions;  and, 
under  the  influence  of  the  wine  with  which  the 
Mora  was  well  supplied,  his  spirits  rose,  the  pros- 
pects of  his  enterprise  seemed  golden  in  the 
morning  light,  and  he  spoke  words  of  encourage- 
ment to  his  companions.  And  at  last  the  sailors 
reported  that  the  rest  of  the  fleet  began  to  come 
in  sight;  the  four  ships  which  first  appeared 
together  upon  the  horizon  grew  more  and  more 
until  the  man  on  the  look-out  could  be  made  by 
our  imaginative  informant  to  remark  that  the 
masts  of  the  fleet  showed  like  a  forest  upon  the 
sea.1  Then  the  duke  weighed  anchor  for  the  last 
time,  and  the  south  wind  still  holding  carried  him 
and  his  fleet  into  Pevensey  bay  at  nine  in  the 
morning;  the  day  being  St.  Michael's  Eve — by 

>  William  of  Poitiers,  126. 

1 86          William  the  Conqueror 

an  appropriate  chance,  for  the  archangel  was 
highly  honoured  in  the  Norman  land. 

William's  landing  was  entirely  undisputed;  the 
good  luck  which,  as  we  have  noticed,  waited  on 
his  expedition  in  its  diplomatic  antecedents, 
attended  its  military  details  also.  During  the 
summer  months,  Harold,  making  what  use  he 
could  of  the  antiquated  military  system  of  Eng- 
land, had  called  out  the  fyrd,  and  lined  the  south 
coast  with  troops,  which,  however  helpless  they 
might  be  in  a  pitched  battle  with  the  Norman 
chivalry,  might  have  brought  considerable  incon- 
venience to  William,  if  they  had  been  in  evidence 
at  the  moment  of  his  landing.  From  May  to 
September  the  Sussex  coast  in  general,  Hastings 
and  Pevensey  in  particular,  were  guarded  by  the 
rural  forces  of  the  shire.1  At  last,  about  the  time 
when  William  was  moving  from  the  Dive  to  St. 
Valery,  the  patience  and  provisions  of  the  fyrd 
gave  out  together;  the  rustics  had  been  kept 
away  from  their  homes  for  four  times  the  cus- 
tomary period  of  service  without  anything  hap- 
pening, and  they  refused  to  stay  on  guard  any 
longer.  They  probably  would  not  have  made 
any  difference  to  the  ultimate  result  in  any  case, 
nor  need  we  blame  Harold  for  being  unable  to 
keep  them  together;  but  the  fact  is  another 
illustration  of  the  hopeless  inefficiency  of  the  old 
English  state.  And  then,  one  week  before  Wil- 
liam's landing,  Harold  had  gathered  the  whole 

*  Abingdon  Chronicle,  1066. 

Battle  of  Hastings  187 

of  such  professional  soldiers  as  England  contained, 
and  had  spent  them  in  the  life-and-death  struggle 
at  Stamfordbridge.  Harold  Hardrada  had  fallen, 
but  his  overthrow  had  gone  far  to  exhaust  the 
military  resources  of  England,  and  it  was  a 
shattered,  if  victorious,  army  which  was  resting 
with  Harold  Godwinson,  at  York,  when  a  fugi- 
tive from  Sussex  arrived  to  tell  that  William 
of  Normandy  had  landed,  and  that  the  south  lay 
at  his  mercy. 

William's  first  movements  in  England  were 
very  deliberate.  His  immediate  care  was  to 
fortify  his  position  at  Pevensey  and  so  protect 
his  fleet  against  surprise.  At  Pevensey,  as 
afterwards  at  Lincoln,  a  line  of  Roman  walling 
could  be  turned  to  account  in  the  construction  of 
a  castle,1  which  was  run  up  in  the  course  of  the 
day;  and  having  thus,  like  his  Scandinavian 
ancestors,  secured  for  himself  a  base  of  operations 
if  events  turned  out  ill,  William  marched  to 
Hastings,  which  was  to  be  his  base  of  operations 
for  the  rest  of  the  campaign.2  At  Hastings,  there- 
fore, another  castle  was  thrown  up,  the  building, 
like  nearly  all  the  castles  built  during  the  twenty 
years  which  followed  the  Conquest,  consisting 
merely  of  a  mound,  with  wooden  defences  on  the 
top  and  a  ditch  and  one  or  more  outer  works 

*  Guy  of  Amiens :  "  Diruta  quae  fuerant  dudum  castella  re- 
forxnas;  Ponis  custodes  ut  tueantur  ea." 

aW.  P.:  "Normanni  previa  munitione  Penevesellum 
altera  Hastingas  occupavere." 

i88          William  the  Conqueror 

below.  Hastings  is  a  point  of  departure  for  many 
roads ;  a  fact  which  no  doubt  very  largely  accounts 
for  William's  choice  of  the  town  as  his  headquar- 
ters; for  it  could  easily  be  provisioned  by  supplies 
from  the  neighbouring  country,  and  it  lay  very 
conveniently  as  a  base  for  an  attack  on  London. 
The  men  of  east  Sussex  were  not  long  before 
they  felt  the  pressure  of  the  invading  army.  Most 
of  the  villages  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Hastings 
are  recorded  in  Domesday  to  have  been  "waste" 
at  some  period  between  the  death  of  King  Edward 
and  1066,  and  the  connection  between  these 
signs  of  ravage  and  William's  camp  at  Hastings 
is  sufficiently  obvious.  But  it  is  not  probable 
that  William  attempted  any  systematic  harrying 
of  this  district  such  as  that  which  three  years 
afterwards  he  carried  out  with  grim  success  in 
the  country  beyond  the  Humber;  the  Sussex 
villages,  as  a  rule,  had  quite  recovered  their 
former  prosperity  by  the  date  of  the  great  survey. 
The  passage  of  foraging  parties  over  the  land 
demanding  provisions,  which  would  be  none  too 
readily  granted,  and  the  other  incidents  of  a 
medieval  war  of  invasion,  are  enough  to  account 
for  depreciation  of  the  kind  recorded.  Harold 
himself,  as  he  drew  towards  Hastings,  left  traces 
of  his  march  in  similar  cases  of  temporary  devasta- 
tion, and  there  is  no  reason  to  suppose  that  William 
undertook  a  deliberate  harrying  of  Sussex  in  order 
to  provoke  Harold  to  a  general  engagement.1 

» See  on  this  point  Round,  Feudal  England,  150-152. 



Battle  of  Hastings  189 

William,  indeed,  as  yet  can  hardly  have  known 
the  result  of  Stamfordbridge  with  any  degree  of 
certainty.  Rumours  of  the  great  battle  in  the 
north  would  no  doubt  gradually  filter  down  into 
Sussex  during  the  week  following  the  event,  but 
for  some  days  after  his  arrival  at  Hastings  Wil- 
liam cannot  have  ignored  the  possibility  that  it 
might  be  a  Norwegian  host  which  would  ulti- 
mately appear  upon  the  edge  of  the  downs. 
Definite  news,  however,  at  some  unspecified  date, 
was  brought  to  William  by  a  message  from  an 
unexpected  quarter.1  Robert,  the  son  of  WjTnaxc, 
a  Breton  knight,  who  in  some  unknown  way 
could  claim  kindred  with  both  William  and 
Edward,  had  been  "staller  "  or  master  of  the  horse 
to  the  latter,  and  had  stood  together  with  Harold 
and  Stigand  by  the  king's  deathbed.  Whether  he 
had  actually  been  present  at  the  battle  of  Stam- 
fordbridge is  uncertain;  but  shortly  after  the 
fight  he  sent  a  messenger  to  William  to  advise  a 
speedy  withdrawal  to  Normandy  before  something 
worse  happened  to  him.  The  message  ran  that 
Harold  had  destroyed  the  huge  forces  of  the  king 
of  Norway,  himself  the  bravest  man  in  the  world, 
and  that  now,  inspired  by  victory,  he  was  turning 
upon  the  duke  with  a  great  and  enthusiastic 
army.  Rather  unwisely  Robert  went  on  to  add 
that  the  Normans  were  no  match  for  the  English, 
either  in  numbers  or  bravery,  and  that  William, 
who  had  always  shown  himself  discreet  hitherto, 
»  William  of  Poitiers,  138. 

190         William  the  Conqueror 

would  do  well  to  retire  at  once,  or  at  all  events  to 
keep  within  his  fortifications  and  avoid  a  battle 
in  the  open  field.  To  this  well-meaning  person 
William  replied  that  his  one  desire  was  to  come 
to  blows  with  Harold,  that  although  Robert's 
advice  might  have  been  better  expressed  yet  he 
thanked  Tiim  for  it,  and  that  if  he  had  with  him 
but  ten  thousand  instead  of  sixty  thousand  men l 
he  would  never  retire  without  wreaking  vengeance 
on  his  enemy.  It  is  not  unlikely  that  Robert's 
message  was  really  inspired  by  Harold  himself, 
and  from  one  or  two  turns  of  expression  in  Wil- 
liam's reply  we  may  perhaps  gather  that  he 
suspected  as  much;  although  it  might  be  thought 
that  Harold,  who  had  seen  something  of  his  rival 
in  past  years,  cannot  have  had  much  hope  of 
getting  rid  of  him  by  mere  intimidation.  However 
this  may  be,  it  is  interesting  to  find  Robert,  a 
prominent  member  of  a  class  which  has  suffered 
much  abuse  because  of  an  assumed  lack  of  patri- 
otism towards  its  adopted  country,  playing  a 
part  which  so  admirably  saves  his  duty  to  his 
king  and  his  kinsman  alike. 

We  have  two  poetical  accounts  of  the  way  in 
which  the  news  of  William's  landing  was  brought 
to  Harold  at  York.  Wace,  the  Norman  poet  of 
the  twelfth  century,  tells  how  a  Sussex ' '  chevalier  " 
heard  the  shouting  of  the  "peasants  and  villeins" 
as  the  fleet  drew  in  to  the  shore,  and  how,  attracted 

1  William's  real  numbers  probably  lay  between  six -and 
seven  thousand. 

Battle  of  Hastings  191 

by  the  noise,  he  came  out,  hid  behind  a  hill  and 
lay  there  until  the  work  of  disembarkation  was 
over  and  the  castle  at  Pevensey  thrown  up;  then 
riding  off  with  lance  and  sword,  night  and  day, 
to  York,  to  tell  the  king  the  news  of  what  he  had 
seen.1  Guy,  bishop  of  Amiens,  who  wrote  within 
a  short  time  of  the  event,  makes  the  news  of  the 
Norman  arrival  be  borne  by  a  rustic  from  Hastings, 
not  Pevensey;  and  the  details  which  are  told  to 
Harold  relate  to  the  devastation  caused  by  the 
invaders  near  Hastings,  not  to  the  landing  itself.2 
Perhaps  these  two  stories  are  not  quite  incom- 
patible with  each  other;  but  we  need  not  attempt 
to  reconcile  them  here,  in  view  of  the  undoubted 
fact  that  Harold  was  informed  of  William's  land- 
ing within  some  three  days  of  the  event. 

At  this  crisis  Harold  acted  with  astonishing 
energy.  Taking  with  him  his  faithful  huscarles, 
a  body  sadly  thinned  by  the  battle  of  a  few  days 
before,  he  hurried  southwards  by  way  of  Tad- 
caster,  Lincoln,  Stamford,  and  Huntingdon,  the 
same  route  which  in  the  reverse  direction  he  had 
followed  in  the  previous  week ;  now  as  then  drawing 
into  his  force  the  fyrd  of  the  shires  through  which 
he  passed.  Edwin  and  Morcar  were  directed  to 
raise  the  levies  of  their  respective  earldoms, 
and  in  their  expected  absence  the  government 

1  See  the  paraphrase  of  this  passage  in  the  Roman  de 
Ron,  Freeman,  N.  C.,  iii.,  417. 

3  Guy  of  Amiens, p.  31 :  "Ex  Anglis unustlatitans sub rupe 
marina  Cemit  ut  effusas  innumeras  acies.  Scandere  currit 
equum;  festinat  dicere  regi." 

192          William  the  Conqueror 

of  the  north  was  entrusted  to  Marleswegen,  the 
sheriff  of  Lincolnshire,1  an  Englishman  who  re- 
mains little  more  than  a  name  in  the  narrative 
of  the  Conquest,  but  who,  if  Harold  had  triumphed 
at  Hastings  might  probably  have  played  an 
important  part  in  the  history  of  the  following 
years.  How  far  Harold  really  believed  in  the 
fidelity  of  the  northern  earls  is  uncertain;  they 
'had  shown  no  overt  signs  of  disaffection  during 
the  last  months  since  he  had  married  their  sister. 
On  the  other  hand,  considering  the  long-standing 
rivalry  between  his  house  and  theirs,  and  their 
probable  share  in  the  Northumbrian  difficulties 
at  the  beginning  of  his  reign,  Harold  was  perhaps 
not  altogether  surprised  that  Edwin  and  Morcar, 
in  the  words  of  Florence  of  Worcester,  "withdrew 
themselves  and  their  men  from  the  conflict." 
With  the  best  intentions  they  would  have  found 
it  difficult  to  join  him  in  time  for  the  battle; 
it  would  not  have  been  easy  for  them  to  raise  the 
fyrd  from  all  the  shires  between  the  Humber  and 
the  Tweed  on  the  one  part  and  between  the  fens  and 
the  Severn  on  the  other,  and  to  bring  the  troops  to 
London  within  the  five  days  which  Harold  spent 
there.  For  on  October  nth,2  a  fortnight  after  the 
battle  of  Stamf ordbridge,  Harold  set  out  from  Lon- 
don on  his  last  march  towards  the  Sussex  downs. 

iGaimar,  VEstoire  des  Engles,  R.  S.,  i.,  p.  222.  Gaimar 
wrote  in  the  twelfth  century,  but  he  followed  a  lost  copy 
of  the  A.-8.  chronicle. 

2  For  the  chronology  of  the  campaigns  of  Stamfordbridge 
and  Hastings  the  dates  given  by  Freeman  are  followed  here. 

Battle  of  Hastings  193 

It  is  an  interesting,  but  not  very  profitable, 
speculation  how  far  Harold  was  justified  in 
staking  his  all  upon  the  result  of  a  single  battle 
with  the  invader.  With  our  knowledge  of  what 
happened  it  is  natural  to  condemn  him;  he  was 
condemned  by  the  general  opinion  of  the  historians 
of  the  next  generation,  and  very  possibly  their 
sentence  is  right.  On  the  other  hand  we  cannot 
but  feel  that  we  know  very  little  of  the  real  facts 
of  the  case;  even  the  essential  question  of  the 
relative  numbers  of  the  English  and  Norman 
armies  cannot  be  answered  with  any  degree  of 
accuracy.  It  may  be  aigued  with  much  plausi- 
bility that  the  wisest  course  for  Harold  would  have 
been  to  let  William  work  his  will  upon  the  un- 
fortunate inhabitants  of  Sussex,  trusting  to  time 
and  the  national  feeling  likely  to  be  aroused  by 
the  ravages  of  an  invader  to  bring  an  overwhelm- 
ing superiority  in  numbers  over  to  his  side.  This, 
we  may  be  sure,  would  have  been  the  course 
taken  by  William  himself  in  such  a  case,  but 
Harold  was  probably  by  nature  incapable  of 
playing  a  waiting  game  of  this  kind.  His  ability, 
so  far  as  we  can  tell,  lay  in  sudden  assaults  and 
surprises;  the  more  deliberate  processes  of  general- 
ship were  foreign  to  his  temperament.  And  then 
there  remains  the  fact  that  the  loyalty  of  Mercia 
and  Northumbria  was  at  least  doubtful;  delay 
on  Harold's  part  might  only  mean  that  Edwin 
and  Morcar  with  their  forces  would  have  tirr.3 
to  come  over  effectively  to  V%*il!iam's  side,  while 

i94          William  the  Conqueror 

another  great  victory  so  soon  after  Stamford- 
bridge  would  have  placed  Harold  in  a  position  from 
which,  for  the  time  being,  he  could  defy  all  rivals. 
At  any  rate  he  took  the  step,  and  paid  the  penalty 
of  failure. 

But,  whatever  we  may  think  of  the  general 
wisdom  of  Harold's  strategy,  it  is  impossible  to 
deny  that  he  showed  a  general's  appreciation  of 
the  tactical  possibilities  of  the  ground  on  which 
he  chose  to  put  the  fate  of  England  to  the  test. 
After  a  forced  march  through  the  thick  woods 
which  at  that  time  covered  the  Sussex  downs, 
the  king  halted  his  army  on  a  barren  ridge  of 
ground  seven  miles  north-east  of  the  town  of 
Hastings,     It  is  plain  from  all  the  narratives 
of  the  forthcoming  encounter  that  the  ridge  in 
question  was  quite  unoccupied  at  the  time  of  the 
battle;  and  when  the  English  chroniclers  wish  to 
describe  its  site  they  can  only  tell  us  that  Harold  and 
William  came  together  "by  the  hoar  apple-tree."1 
The  strength  of  the  position  was  determined,  not 
so  much  by  the  general  elevation  of  the  ground, 
which  at  no  point  reaches  a  greater  height  than 
300  feet  above  sea  level,  as  by  the  fact  that  it  was 
surrounded   by  country  very  hilly  and  much 
broken  by  streams,  and  that  its  physical  features 
lent  natural  support  to  the  disposition  of  an  army 
which  relied  for  success  on  its  capacity  for  stolid 
resistance.    The  position  was  undoubtedly  chosen 

«  Worcester  Chronicle,  1066 :  "  He  com  him  togenes  at  thceie 
haran  apuMran." 

Battle  of  Hastings  195 

by  Harold  with  the  object  of  forcing  his  enemy 
to  an  immediate  battle;  for  William  could  not 
move  either  east  or  west  from  Hastings  without 
exposing  his  base  to  an  English  attack;  and 
Harold,  who  knew  that  the  main  strength  of  a 
Norman  army  lay  in  its  troops  of  mailed  horse- 
men, had  been  careful  to  offer  battle  on  a  site  in 
which  the  cavalry  arm  would  be  placed  by  the 
ground  at  a  natural  disadvantage.1 

From  the  nature  of  the  case  it  has  come  about 
that  we  possess  very  little  information  either  as 
to  the  numbers  of  the  English  army  or  as  to  the 
details  of  its  formation  on  the  day  of  battle.  The 
Norman  writers,  on  whom  we  are  compelled  to 
rely,  have  naturally  exaggerated  the  former,  nor 
did  any  survivor  from  the  English  army  describe 
the  order  of  its  battle  array  to  the  chroniclers 
of  Worcester  or  Peterborough.  In  recent  studies 

1  The  statement  that  Harold  further  strengthened  his 
position  by  building  a  palisade  in  front  of  it  rests  solely  on 
an  obscure  and  probably  corrupt  passage  in  the  Roman  de 
Rott  (lines  7815  et  seqq).  Apart  altogether  from  the  text- 
ual difficulty,  the  assertion'  of  Wace  is  of  no  authority  in 
view  of  the  silence  both  of  contemporary  writers  and  of 
those  of  the  next  generation.  In  regard  to  none  of  the  many 
earlier  English  fights  of  this  century  have  we  any  hint  that 
the  position  of  the  army  was  strengthened  in  this  manner; 
nor  in  practice  would  it  have  been  easy  for  Harold  to  collect 
sufficient  timber  to  protect  a  front  of  Soo  yards  on  the 
barren  down  where  he  made  his  stand.  The  negative  evi- 
dence of  the  Bayeux  tapestry  is  of  particular  importance 
here;  for  its  designer  could  represent  defences  of  the  kind 
suggested  when  he  so  desired,  as  in  the  case  of  the  fight  at 

196          William  the  Conqueror 

of  the  great  battle  there  is  manifested  a  strong 
unwillingness  to  allow  to  either  the  English  or  the 
Norman  host  more  than  a  small  proportion  of  the 
numbers  which  used  to  be  assigned  to  it  thirty 
years  ago.1  It  is  very  improbable  that  William 
led  more  than  6000  men  into  action  on  October 
15,  1066,  and  there  is  good  reason  for  doubting 
whether  the  knightly  portion  of  his  army  can 
have  exceeded  5000.  Small  as  this  last  number 
may  appear,  every  man  included  in  it  was  an 
efficient  combatant;  but  the  English  force  was 
largely  composed  of  rustics  impressed  from  the 
shires  through  which  Harold  had  rushed  on  his 
great  march  from  York  to  London  after  the  bat- 
tle of  Stamfordbridge,  and  even  so,  it  is  far 
from  certain  that  the  native  force  was  materially 
stronger  than  the  army  of  invasion.  With  regard 
to  its  distribution,  we  know  that  the  English  line 
of  battle  seemed  convex  to  the  Normans  on  their 
approach  from  the  south-east,2  and  it  is  probable 
that  it  ran  for  some  800  yards  along  the.  hill  of 
battle,  the  flanks  being  thrown  well  back  so  as  to 
rest  upon  the  steep  bank  which  bounds  the  ridge 
towards  the  north.  It  is  certain  that  the  English 
troops  were  drawn  up  in  extremely  close  order, 
and  it  is  a  natural  assumption  that  Harold  would 
place  the  kernel  of  his  army,  the  huscarles  who 

»  Spatz,  p.  30,  will  only  allow  to  William  a  total  force  of 
six  to  seven  thousand  men. 

»W.  P.,  133.  "Cuncti  pedites  consistere  denslus  con- 
globati."  For  the  arrangement  of  the  English  army  on  the 
hill  see  Baring,  E.  H.  R.,  xx.,  6$. 

Battle  of  Hastings  197 

had  survived  Stamfordbridge,  :n,  the  front  rank; 
stationing  his  inferior  troops  in  the  rear  so  as  to 
support  the  huscarles  in  resisting  the  impact  of  the 
Norman  cavalry.1  On  the  highest  point  of  the 
whole  line,  a  spot  now  marked  by  the  high  altar 
of  the  Abbey  church  of  Battle,  Harold  planted 
his  standard;  and  it  was  round  the  standard  that 
the  fight  was  most  stoutly  contested,  and  that, 
after  seven  hours  of  struggle,  the  king  at  last  fell. 
In  speaking  of  the  generalship  displayed  by 
Harold's  rival  on  this  occasion,  it  is  important 
to  beware  of  the  associations  aroused  by  modern 
military  terminology.  At  least  if  we  speak  of 
him  as  a  strategist  or  tactician,  we  should  be 
careful  to  remember  that  strategy  and  tactics 
themselves  had  attained  to  but  a  rudimentary 
stage  of  development  in  Northern  Europe  in  the 
eleventh  century.  Recent  studies  of  tie  battle 
of  Hastings,  the  one  fight  of  the  period  in  regard 
to  which  we  possess  a  considerable  amount  of 
detailed  information,  have  brought  out  the  fact 
that  William's  host  was  far  too  stiff  and  unwieldy 
a  body  to  perform  the  complicated  evolutions  by 
which  it  used  to  be  assumed  that  the  day  was 

i  It  is  probable  that  the  expressions  in  certain  later  au- 
thorities (e.g.  W.  M.,  ii.,  302,  "  pedites  omnes  cum  bipennibus 
conserta  ante  se  testudine  ")  from  which  the  formation  by  the 
English  of  a  definite  shield  or  wall  has  been  inferred  mean 
no  more  than  this.  The  "  bord  weal "  of  earlier  Anglo-Saxon 
warfare  may  also  be  explained  as  a  poetical  phrase  for  a  line 
of  troops  in  close  order. 

See  Round,  Feudal  England,  360-366. 

1 98  William  the  Conqueror 

won.1  We  should  be  committing  a  grave  error 
if  we  were  to  suppose  that  the  Norman  army 
possessed  that  mobility  and  capacity  for  con- 
certed action  among  its  several  divisions  which 
belonged  to  the  forces  led  by  Turenne  or  Marl- 
borough.  Feudal  battles  were  determined  more 
by  the  event  of  simple  collisions  of  large  masses 
of  men  than  by  their  manoeuvres  when  in  the 
field:  the  skill  of  a  great  feudal  captain  lay 
chiefly  in  his  ability  to  choose  his  ground  so  as  to 
give  his  side  the  preliminary  advantage  in  the 
shock  of  battle;  apart  from  the  example  of  his 
personal  valour  he  had  but  little  influence  upon 
the  subsequent  fortunes  of  the  day.  On  the 
present  occasion  William  was  compelled  to  fight 
on  the  ground  of  his  opponent's  choice;  and  this 
initial  disadvantage  cost  the  Norman  leader  an 
indefinite  number  of  his  best  troops,  and,  even 
after  the  issue  of  the  battle  had  been  decided, 
protracted  the  English  resistance  until  nightfall 
had  put  an  end  to  the  struggle.  On  the  other  haiid, 
there  was  one  fatal  weakness  in  the  English  host 
which  must  have  been  recognised  by  the  other 
side  already  before  the  fight  had  begun.  The 
fact  that  Harold,  for  all  effective  purposes,  was 
totally  unprovided  with  either  archers  or  cavalry 
exposed  his  army  to  a  method  of  attack  which  he 

» This  fact,  which  must  condition  any  account  to  be  given 
of  the  battle  of  Hastings,  was  first  stated  by  Dr.  W.  Spate, 
"Die  Schlacht  von  Hastings."  section  v.,  "Taktik  beider 
Heere,"  p.  34. 

c  3 


Q  5 
111   S 


Battle  of  Hastings  199 

was  quite  unable  to  parry,  and  the  arrangement 
of  the  Norman  line  of  battle  shows  that  William 
from  the  first  relied  for  success  on  this  advantage. 
The  battle  of  Hastings  was  won  by  the  combination 
of  archery  and  cavalry  against  infantry  whose 
one  chance  of  success  lay  in  the  possibility  that 
it  might  keep  its  formation  unbroken  until  the 
strength  of  the  offensive  had  been  exhausted.1 
In  the  early  morning  of  the  i4th  of  Oc- 
tober the  Norman  army  moved  out  of  Hastings 
and  advanced  across  the  seven  miles  of  broken 
country  which  lay  between  the  English  army  and 
the  sea.  The  march  must  have  been  a  toilsome 
business,  and  the  rapidity  with  which  it  was 
accomplished  is  remarkable.2  At  the  point 
marked  by  the  modern  village  of  Telham,  the 
road  from  Hastings  to  Battle  passes  over  a  hill 
which  rises  to  some  350  feet  above  sea-level,  and 
commands  a  view  of  the  English  position.  On 
the  far  side  of  this  hill  it  is  probable  that  William 
halted,  waited  for  his  scattered  troops  to  come 
together,  and  then  drew  them  out  in  order  of 
battle.  In  his  first  line  he  placed  his  light-armed 
infantry,  who  probably  formed  a  very  incon- 
siderable portion  of  his  army,  and  were  unprovided 
with  defensive  harness.  To  these  inferior  troops 
succeeded  infantry  of  a  higher  class,  protected 

»  This  point  is  brought  out  strongly  by  Oman,  History 
of  the  Art  of  War. 

»  Spatz,  p.  29,  uses  this  fact  to  limit  the  numbers  of  the 
Norman  army. 

200         William  the  Conqueror 

by  armour,  but,  like  the  light-armed  skirmishers 
in  the  front  rank,  armed  only  with  bows  and 
arrows  and  slings.  The  function  of  the  infantry 
in  the  coming  encounter  was  to  harass  the  English 
with  their  missiles  and  tempt  them  to  break  their 
ranks.  Lastly  came  the  main  body  of  the  Norman 
army,  the  squadrons  of  cavalry,  on  whom  it  rested 
to  attack  the  English  line  after  it  had  been  shaken 
by  the  missiles  of  the  previous  ranks.1  The  whole 
army  was  further  arranged  in  three  great  divisions, 
the  native  Normans  composing  the  centre,  the 
Bretons,  under  the  command  of  Alan,  son  of 
Count  Eon  of  Penthievre,  forming  the  left  wing,  and 
the  French  volunteers  the  right.2  In  the  centre 
of  the  whole  line  of  advance,  the  Norman  coun- 
terpart of  the  English  standard,  there  was  borne 
the  consecrated  banner  which  William  had  re- 
ceived from  the  pope.3 

So  quickly  had  the  march  from  Hastings  been 
made  that  the  actual  fighting  was  opened  at  about 
nine  in  the  morning4  by  an  advance  of  the  Norman 
foot.  Galled  by  a  heavy  fire  from  the  archers, 
which  could  only  be  answered  very  ineffectively 
by  the  spears  and  stones  which  were  almost  the 
sole  missile  weapons  of  the  English,  numbers  of 
the  native  troops  broke  away  from  their  line,  in 

»  W.  P.,  132. 

2  Guy  of  Amiens:  "Laevam  Galli,  dextram  petiere  Brit- 
anni.  Dux  cum  Nonnannis  dimicat  in  medio." 

a  W.  P.,  132. 

*  Florence  of  Worcester,  1066:  "Ab  hora,  tamen  diei 
tertia  usque  ad  noctis  crepusculum." 

Battle  of  Hastings  201 

defiance  of  the  strict  orders  issued  by  Harold  to 
the  effect  that  no  man  should  leave  his  post.  In 
the  meantime,  the  Norman  cavalry  had  been 
steadily  making  its  way  to  the  front  in  order  to 
take  immediate  advantage  of  the  disorder  caused 
in  the  English  ranks  by  the  fire  of  the  archers. 
But  the  knights  could  only  move  their  horses 
slowly  up  the  hill;  the  solidity  of  the  English 
formation  had  not  been  seriously  affected  as  yet, 
and  the  cavalry  were  compelled  to  attack  an 
unbroken  line.  The  result  was  disaster.  The 
Breton  auxiliaries  on  the  left  fell  back,  the  con- 
fusion spread  rapidly,  and  the  English,  seizing 
their  advantage,  sallied  forth  and  drove  the 
entire  Norman  line  before  them  in  headlong  flight 
down  the  hill.1  Fortunately  William  had  not 
joined  in  this  first  attack  in  person,  and  when  in 
their  panic  the  Normans  believed  that  their 
leader  had  fallen,  they  were  soon  recalled  to  their 
senses  by  the  sight  of  the  duke  with  bared  head, 
laying  about  him  with  his  spear,  and  shouting 
words  of  reproof  and  encouragement.2  Mounted 
as  they  were,  the  flying  knights  could  have  but 
little  difficulty  in  outstripping  their  pursuers,  but, 
if  we  may  trust  the  Bayeux  tapestry,  a  number 
of  English  and  Normans  perished  together  in  the 
course  of  the  flight,  by  falling  into  a  deep  depres- 

i  Guy  of  Amiens.  W.  P.,  133:  "Cedit  fere  cuncta  Ducis 

«  "  Fugientibus  occurrit  et  obstitit,  verberans  aut  minans 
hasta."— W.  P.,  134. 

202          William  the  Conqueror 

sion  in  the  ground  situated  somewhere  between 
the  base  of  the  hill  and  the  duke's  post.  Accord- 
ing to  the  same  authority,  the  bishop  of  Bayeux 
did  good  service  at  this  moment,  restoring  order 
among  the  baggage-carriers  and  camp-followers, 
who  were  apparently  becoming  infected  with  the 
panic  which  had  seized  their  masters.1  Between 
the  duke  and  his  brother,  the  flight  was  checked, 
and  then  the  knights,  eager  to  avenge  their  dis- 
grace, rallied,  turned,  and  cut  off  their  pursuers 
from  their  comrades  on  the  hill,  making  a  whole- 
sale slaughter  of  them.2  Mainly  through  William's 
self-possession  the  Norman  rout  had  ended  after 
all  in  a  distinct  success  gained  for  his  side. 

As  soon  as  the  cavalry  had  re-formed,  the  attack 
on  the  English  position  was  resumed;  this  time 
under  the  immediate  leadership  of  the  duke.  The 
struggle  at  the  foot  of  the  hill  had  given  its 
defenders  time  to  close  their  ranks,  and  the 
English  continued  to  present  an  impenetrable 
front  to  the  Norman  cavalry.  All  along  the  line 
a  desperate  struggle  raged  for  some  hours,  but  of 
its  details  no  tale  can  be  told,  although  it  is 
probable  that  it  was  at  this  point  in  the  battle 
that  Gyrth  and  Leofwine,  Harold's  brothers,  fell, 
and  there  is  good  reason  for  believing  that  the 
former  was  struck  down  by  the  hand  of  the  duke 
himself.  William,  indeed,  in  all  our  authorities 

1  Bayeux  tapestry  scene:  "Hie  Odo  episcopus,  baculum 
tenftns,  confortat  pueros." 
W.  P.,  134. 

Battle  of  Hastings  203 

is  represented  as  the  life  and  soul  of  the  attack, 
4 'more  often  calling  to  his  men  to  come  on  than 
bidding  them  advance"  says  William  of  Poitiers; 
he  had  three  horses  killed  tinder  him  before  the 
day  was  over,  and  he  did  all  that  might  be  done 
by  a  feudal  captain  to  keep  his  troops  together 
and  to  inspire  them  by  his  example.  But  not- 
withstanding his  exertions  it  is  evident  that  the 
English  were  more  than  holding  their  own,1  and 
a  second  repulse  suffered  thus  late  in  the  day  by 
the  Norman  cavalry  would  almost  certainly  have 
passed  into  a  rout  of  the  whole  army.  At  this 
crisis  it  occurred  to  some  cunning  brain,  whether 
that  of  the  duke  or  another,  that  it  might  be 
possible  by  feigning  flight  to  tempt  the  English 
troops  to  break  their  formation,  and  then,  by 
turning  on  suitable  ground,  to  repeat  the  success 
which  had  ended  the  real  flight  in  the  forenoon. 
The  movement  was  easily  carried  out;  a  body  of 
Normans  rode  away,  and  a  crowd  of  Englishmen, 
regardless  of  everything  except  the  relief  from 
the  immediate  strain  of  keeping  their  ranks, 
hurled  themselves  down  the  hill  shouting  curses 
and  cries  of  victory.  No  discipline  could  have 
been  kept  under  the  circumstances,  and  when 
the  galloping  knights  suddenly  spread  out  their 
line,  wheeled  around  their  horses,  and  sur- 
rounded the  disordered  mob  of  their  pursuers 

1  "  Animadvertentes  Normanni  ,  .  .  non  absque  nimio 
sui  incommode  hostem  tantura  simul  resistentem  superari 
posse."— W.  P.,  135. 

204         William  the  Conqueror 

the  latter  were  ridden  down  and  cut  to  pieces 
by  scores.1 

It  is,  of  course,  impossible  to  estimate  the 
actual  extent  of  the  loss  which  the  English  sus- 
tained in  the  episode  of  the  feigned  flight,  but 
there  can  be  little  doubt  that  its  success  marks 
the  turning-point  in  the  fortune  of  the  day.  No 
incident  in  the  great  battle  made  a  deeper  im- 
pression upon  the  historians  who  have  described 
it  for  us,  and  the  tale  of  the  feigned  flight  is  told  in 
different  narratives  with  great  variety  of  circum- 
stance and  detail.  But  from  the  writers  who  lived 
nearest  to  the  time  we  may  infer  with  tolerable 
certainty  that  the  manoeuvre  in  question  was  a 
sudden  expedient,  devised  and  acted  upon  without 
previous  organisation,  and  also  that  it  was  a 
simple,  not  a  combined  movement.  The  whole 
business  of  decoying  the  English  from  the  hill, 
turning  upon,  and  then  surrounding  them,  was  the 
work  of  one  and  the  same  body  of  knights.  On 
the  other  hand,  it  is  probably  incorrect  to  speak 
of  the  feigned  flight  in  the  singular,  for  our  best 
authority  distinctly  asserts  that  the  same  strata- 
gem was  used  twice  2 ;  fighting  was  going  on  along  a 
front  of  at  least  half  a  mile  in  length,  and  different 
sections  of  the  Norman  army  may  very  well  have 
carried  out  the  movement  at  different  times, 

1  **  Normanni  repente  regirati  equis  interceptos  et  inclusos 
undique  mactaverunt." — W,  P.,  135. 

a  "Bis  eo  dolo  simili  eventu  usi." — William  of  Poitiers, 

Battle  of  Hastings  205 

and  in  complete  independence  of  each  other. 
However  this  may  be,  the  effect  of  the  manoeuvre 
was  soon  apparent.  The  English  line,  though 
shrunken  in  numbers,  closed  its  ranks  and  kept 
its  formation,  wedged  together  so  tightly  that  the 
wounded  could  not  fall  behind  to  the  rear,  nor 
even  the  dead  bodies  drop  to  the  ground.  But 
the  superior  endurance  of  the  Norman  troops  was 
beginning  to  tell;  the  English  were  rapidly 
losing  heart,1  and  the  consummation  of  William's 
victory  only  waited  for  the  destruction  of  King 
Harold,  and  of  the  warriors  who  fought  with 
him  round  the  standard. 

The  attack  which  finally  beat  down  the  resist- 
ance of  the  English  line  seems  to  have  been  de- 
livered from  some  point  to  the  south-east  of  the 
hill.2  The  battle  had  already  continued  for  seven 
or  eight  hours,  and  twilight  was  beginning  to  fall,3 
but  its  approach  could  only  remind  the  shaken 
remnant  of  the  native  host  that  the  day  was  lost, 
and  the  end  of  the  great  fight  was  now  very  near. 
It  was  in  the  last  confused  struggle  which  raged 
round  the  standard  in  the  fading  light  that  Harold 
met  his  death;  and  then  his  companions,  tired 
out  and  hopeless  of  reinforcement,  yielded  the 
ground  they  had  defended  for  so  long,  and  broke 
away  to  the  north-west  along  the  neck  of  land 

<  "  Languent  Angli,  et  quasi  reattun  ipso  defectu confitentes, 
vindictum  patiuntur." — W.  P.,  135. 

2  Baring,  E.  H.  R.,  xxii.,  71. 

*  "  Jam  inclinato  die.1'— W.  P.,  137.  Crepttsculi  iempore.— 
Florence  of  Worcester,  1066. 

William  the  Conqueror 

which  connects  the  hill  of  battle  with  the  higher 
ridges  of  the  downs  beyond  it.  The  victors 
followed  in  hot  pursuit;  but  a  strange  chance 
gave  to  Harold,  in  the  very  hour  of  his  death, 
a  signal  revenge  over  the  men  at  whose  hands  he 
had  just  fallen.  A  little  to  the  west  of  the  original 
position  of  the  English  army  one  of  the  head- 
waters of  the  Asten  had  cut  a  deep  ravine,  of 
which  the  eastern  face  was  so  steep  as  to  be  a 
veritable  trap  for  any  incautious  horsemen  who 
might  attempt  to  ride  down  it.  In  the  gathering 
darkness  knight  after  knight,  galloping  after  the 
English  fugitives  in  secure  ignorance  of  the  ground, 
crashed  down  into  this  gully;  and  the  name 
Malfosse,  borne  throughout  the  Middle  Ages  by  the 
ravine  in  question,  bears  witness  to  the  extent  of 
the  disaster  which  the  victorious  army  suffered 
at  this  point.1  Harold,  after  he  had  lost  life  and 
kingdom,  was  still  justified  of  the  ground  which 
he  had  chosen  as  the  place  of  battle. 

Late  in  the  night  William  returned  to  the 
battlefield  and  pitched  his  tent  there.  There 
could  be  no  doubt  that  he  had  gained  an  unequivo- 
cal victory;  his  rival  was  dead,  the  native  army 
annihilated;  he  could  well  afford  to  give  his 
troops  the  rest  they  needed.  The  early  part  of 
the  following  day  was  spent  in  the  burial  of  the 
Norman  dead;  the  work  being  carried  out  under 
the  duke's  immediate  care.  The  English  folk 
of  the  neighbourhood  soon  came  in  numbers  to 

»  Baring,  E.  H.  R.,  xsii.,  69. 

Battle  of  Hastings  207 

the  battlefield  and  begged  for  the  bodies  of  their 
fallen  kinsfolk,  which  they  were  allowed  to  cany 
away  for  burial;  but  the  unclaimed  corpses  were 
left  strewn  about  the  hill.  Before  long  the  bodies 
of  Harold,  Gyrth  and  Leofwine  were  found  lying 
close  together;  but  Harold's  corpse  had  been 
horribly  mangled,  and,  according  to  the  later 
romantic  story,  it  was  only  identified  by  means 
of  certain  marks  upon  the  body  which  were  known 
and  recognised  by  the  dead  man's  mistress, 
Edith  the  Swan-necked.  Towards  the  close  of 
the  morrow  of  the  battle,  William  returned  to 
his  castle  at  Hastings,  bearing  Harold's  body  with 
him  for  burial  upon  the  shore  in  unconsecrated 
ground  as  befitted  an  excommunicate,  and  an 
urgent  message  from  Gytha,  Godwine's  widow, 
offering  for  her  son's  body  its  weight  in  gold, 
did  nothing  to  shake  his  purpose.1  With  char- 
acteristic irony  William  remarked  that  it  was 
but  fitting  that  Harold  in  death  should  be  ap- 
pointed guardian  of  the  shore  and  sea,  which  he 
had  tried  to  defend  in  life;  and  the  dead  king's 
body,  wrapped  in  a  purple  robe,  was  laid  out  of 
sight  somewhere  among  the  rocks  along  the  shore 
of  Hastings  bay.  Later  tradition  indeed  asserted 
that  Harold  before  long  was  translated  from  this 
unhallowed  grave  to  a  tomb  in  the  minster  of 
the  Holy  Cross  at  Waltham,  which  he  had  founded 
three  years  before2;  but  the  authority  on  which 

» Guy  of  Amiens. 

the  Waltham  tract,  De  Iwentione  Sancti  Cruets,  ed. 

208          William  the  Conqueror 

this  story  depends  is  none  of  the  best,  and,  for  all 
that  we  really  know  to  the  contrary,  the  last  native 
king  of  England  is  still  the  guardian  of  the  Sussex 

Harold,  above  all  kings  in  English  history 
with  the  possible  exceptions  of  Richard  III.  and 
Charles  L,  was  happy  in  the  circumstances  of  his 
death.  He  gained  thereby  an  immediate  release 
from  the  performance  of  an  impossible  task,  and 
he  was  enabled  to  redeem  the  personal  ambitions 
which  governed  his  past  life  by  associating  them 
in  the  moment  of  his  fall  with  the  cause  of  the 
national  independence  of  England.  It  has  been 
possible  for  historians  to  regret  the  outcome  of 
the  battle  of  Hastings  only  because  it  overthrew 
Harold  before  he  could  prove  the  hopelessness 
of  the  position  in  which  he  had  placed  himself. 
What  chance  had  he,  a  man  of  uncertain  ancestry 
and  questionable  antecedents,  of  completing  the 
work  which  had  overcome  every  king  before  him: 
the  work  of  reconciling  the  antagonism  of  north 
to  south,  of  making  the  royal  word  supreme  in 
the  royal  council,  of  making  the  provincial 
nobility  of  England  and  its  dependents  the 
subjects  of  the  king  and  of  the  king  only?  It  may 
well  be  that  such  a  task  would  have  proved 
beyond  the  power  of  any  native  king,  though 
descended  from  the  immemorial  line  of  Ceidic* 
how  could  it  be  completed  by  an  ambitious  earl, 

Stubbs.    William  of  Malmesbury  was  evidently  acquainted 
with  this  legend. 

Battle  of  Hastings  209 

invested  indeed  with  the  royal  authority,  but 
crippled  in  its  exercise  by  the  bitter  rivalry  cf 
men  who  had  formerly  been  his  fellow-subjects; 
whose  birth  was  more  noble,  whose  wealth  was 
scarcely  less,  who,  in  opposition  to  his  rule,  could 
rely  upon  endless  reserves  of  local  patriotism, 
the  one  source  of  political  strength  which  the 
land  contained?  To  genius,  indeed,  all  things 
are  possible,  but  to  ascribe  genius  to  this  common- 
place, middle-aged  earl  would  be  to  do  sheer 
violence  to  the  meaning  of  words.  Harold  will 
always  hold  a  noble  place  in  the  record  of  English 
history;  but  he  owes  that  place  solely  to  the 
events  of  his  last  month  of  life,  when  the  terrible 
necessity  of  straining  every  faculty  he  possessed 
in  the  support  of  his  trembling  throne  roused  in 
him  a  quickness  of  perception  and  a  rapidity  of 
action  which  his  uneventful  career  as  earl  of  Wessex 
could  never  have  called  into  being.  Harold  was 
undoubtedly  the  best  captain  that  England  had 
seen  since  the  death  of  Edmund  Ironside,  just 
fifty  years  before  the  battle  of  Hastings;  but 
the  work  which  Harold  had  undertaken  would 
have  called  for  quite  other  powers  than  those 
which  he  revealed  so  unexpectedly  on  the  eve 
of  his  death.  William  the  Conqueror,  endowed 
as  he  was  by  nature  with  the  faculties  of  a  great 
ruler  to  an  extent  perhaps  without  parallel  in 
English  history ;  superior  by  the  fact  that  he  came 
in  by  conquest  to  all  the  local  jealousies  which 
distracted  Anglo-Saxon  politics;  and  with  unique 


William  the  Conqueror 

opportunities  of  recasting  the  social  and  tenurial 
features  of  English  life ;  could  only  create  a  strong 
and  uniform  government  in  England  after  three 
years  of  almost  incessant  war,  the  reduction  of  a 
third  of  England  to  a  wilderness,  and  the  remodel- 
ling in  principle  of  the  whole  fabric  of  the  English 
administration,  civil  and  military.  When  it  is 
remembered  that  the  resistance  to  William  was 
made  essentially  on  grounds  not  of  national  feel- 
ing, but  of  local  particularism,  and  that  these 
forces  would  undoubtedly  have  conspired  against 
Harold  as  they  afterwards  conspired  against 
his  rival,  we  can  only  conclude  that  fate  was  kind 
which  slew  Harold  in  the  heat  of  battle  in  a  noble 
cause,  instead  of  condemning  him  to  witness  the 
disintegration  of  his  kingdom,  in  virtual  impotence, 
varied  only  by  spasmodic  outbreaks  of  barren 
civil  war. 

Fenny  of  Harold  II. 



/CATASTROPHIC  as  the  battle  of  Hastings 
^*  seems  to  us  now,  in  view  of  the  later  history, 
its  decisive  character  was  not  recognised  at  once 
by  the  national  party.  The  very  incoherence  of 
the  Anglo-Saxon  polity  brought  a  specious  advan- 
tage to  the  national  cause,  in  that  the  defeat 
of  one  part  of  the  nation  by  an  invader  left 
the  rest  of  the  country  comparatively  unaffected 
by  the  fact.  The  wars  of  Edmund  Ironside  and 
Cnut,  fifty  years  before,  show  us  groups  of  shires 
one  after  the  other  making  isolated  attempts  to 
check  the  progress  of  the  enemy,  and  few  men 
could  already  have  realised  that  the  advent  of 
William  of  Normandy  meant  the  introduction  of 
new  processes  of  warfare  which  would  render 
hopeless  the  casual  methods  of  Anglo-Saxon 
generalship.  Neither  side,  in  fact,  understood 
the  other.  William,  on  his  part  expecting  that  the 
total  overthrow  of  the  English  king  with  his 
army  would  imply  the  immediate  submission 
of  the  whole  land,  took  up  his  quarters  at  Hastings 
on  the  day  after  the  battle  to  receive  the  homage 
of  all  those  Englishmen  who  might  come  in  person 
to  accept  him  as  their  lord.  The  passage  of  five 
days  without  a  single  surrender  taught  him  that 


212         William  the  Conqueror 

the  fruits  of  victory  would  not  fall  into  his  hands 
without  further  shaking,  and  meanwhile  the 
English  nobility  began  to  form  plans  for  a  con- 
tinued resistance  to  his  pretensions  in  the  name 
of  another  national  king. 

Who  that  king  should  be  was  the  first  question 
which  demanded  settlement.  There  was  no  hope 
of  preserving  the  English  crown  in  the  house  of 
Godwine :  the  events  of  the  past  three  weeks  had 
been  fatal  to  all  the  surviving  sons  of  the  old  earl, 
with  the  exception  of  Wulfnoth  the  youngest,  and 
he  was  most  likely  a  prisoner  or  hostage  in  Norr 
mandy.1  Harold's  one  legitimate  son  was  most 
probably  as  yet  unborn;  he  had  at  least  three 
illegitimate  sons  of  sufficient  age,  but  their  candi- 
dature, if  any  one  had  suggested  it,  would  cer- 
tainly have  been  inacceptable  to  the  churchmen 
on  whom  it  rested  to  give  ultimate  sanction  to  any 
choice  which  might  be  made.  Two  alternatives 
remained:  either  a  return  might  be  made  to  the 
old  West  Saxon  line  in  the  person  of  Edgar  the 
Etheling,  or  a  new  dynasty  might  be  started  again 
by  the  election  of  Edwin  or  Morcar.  The  one 
advantage  which  the  former  possessed,  now  as 
earlier  in  the  year,  was  the  fact  that  his  election 
would  not  outrage  the  local  particularism  of  any 
part  of  the  country;  it  might  not  be  impossible 

*  It  is  probable  that  Wulfnoth  had  been  taken  together 
with  Harold  by  Guy  of  Ponthieu,  and  had  been  left  behind 
in  Normandy  as  a  surety  for  the  ob«wvance  of  his  brother's 
oath  to  William, 

From  Hastings  to  York 

for  Wessex,  Mercia,  and  Northumbria  to  -unite 
round  him  in  a  common  cause.  Nor  was  it  un- 
natural that  in  this  hour  of  crushing  disaster  men's 
minds  should  involuntarily  turn  to  the  last  male 
heir  of  their  ancient  kings.  Apart  from  these 
considerations,  there  was  something  to  be  said  in 
favour  of  the  choice  of  one  of  the  northern  earls. 
It  must  have  been  dear  that  Mercia  and  North- 
umbria would  have  to  bear  the  brunt  of  any 
resistance  which  might  subsequently  be  made  to 
the  invader,  whose  troops  were  already  occupying 
the  eastern  shires  of  the  earldom  of  Wessex,  and 
who  would  be  certain  before  long  to  strike  a  blow 
at  London  itself.  But  the  success  of  Harold's 
reign  had  not  been  such  as  to  invite  a  repetition 
of  the  experiment  of  his  election.  Edgar  the 
Etheling  was  chosen  king,  and  the  two  brother 
earls  withdrew  to  Northumbria,  imagining  in 
their  own  minds,  says  William  of  Malmesbury, 
that  William  would  never  come  thither.1 

This  motive  gives  an  interest  to  their  withdrawal 
which  is  lost  if  we  regard  it  as  a  mere  act  of  treach- 
ery to  the  national  cause.  There  can  be  little 
doubt  that  what  Edwin  and  Morcar  intended 
was  a  partition  of  the  kingdom  between  them- 
selves and  William,  and  it  is  at  least  questionable 
whether  such  a  plan  had  not  a  better  prospect  of 
success  than  an  attempt  to  recover  the  whole  land 
for  a  king  who  had  no  personal  qualities  of 
leadership,  and  who  could  never  hope  to  attach 

*  Gesta  Regiim,  R.  S.,  307. 

214          William  the  Conqueror 

to  himself  any  of  that  local  sentiment  in  which 
lay  the  only  real  strength  of  the  national  party. 
The  idea  of  a  divided  kingdom  was  by  no  means 
chimerical.  Old  men  still  living  could  remember 
the  partition  made  by  the  treaty  of  Alney  between 
Edmund  Ironside  and  Cnut,  and  it  was  not  a 
sign  of  utter  folly  for  any  man  to  suppose,  within 
a  week  of  the  battle  of  Hastings,  that  William, 
having  settled  his  score  with  Harold,  might 
content  himself  with  his  rival's  patrimonial 
earldom  of  Wessex,  leaving  the  north  of  England 
to  its  existing  rulers.  No  one  at  this  date  could 
be  expected  to  understand  the  extent  to  which 
William's  political  ideas  differed  from  those  of 
Cnut ;  nor  need  we  suppose  that  Edwin  and  Morcar 
were  mistaken  as  to  the  reality,  though  they  may 
have  overestimated  the  military  value,  of  the 
feeling  for  local  independence  in  their  two  great 
earldoms.  In  the  case  of  Northumbria,  indeed, 
even  after  William's  presence  had  been  felt  in 
every  part  of  the  land,  so  acute  an  observer  as 
Archbishop  Lanfranc  insisted  on  the  subordination 
of  the  see  of  York  to  that  of  Canterbury  on  the 
ground  that  an  independent  archbishop  of  York 
might  canonically  consecrate  an  independent 
king  of  the  Northumbrians.1  What  was  lacking 
to  the  plan  was  not  local  separatism,  but  the 
skill  and  consistency  of  purpose  which  alone  could 
turn  it  to  account.  Neither  the  ignominious 

*  Thomas  Stubbs,  ed.  Raine;  Historians  of  the  Church  of 
York,  R.  S,t  ii.,  100. 

From  Hastings  to  York         215 

failure  of  Edwin  and  Morcar,  on  the  one  hand,  nor 
the  grandiose  phrases  of  chancery  clerks  about 
the  "Empire  of  Britain,'1  on  the  other,  should 
blind  us  to  the  fact  that  England  was  united  only 
in  name  until  the  strong  rule  of  its  Norman 
lords  had  made  the  king's  word  as  truly  law  in 
Yorkshire  as  in  Middlesex. 

While  the  English  leaders  were  disposing  of 
their  crown  William  was  pursuing  his  deliberate 
course  towards  London  by  a  route  roughly  paral- 
lel with  the  coast  of  Kent  and  Sussex.  His  delay 
at  Hastings  had  not  been  time  wasted;  it  allowed 
his  troops  to  recover  from  the  strain  and  excite- 
ment of  the  great  battle,  and  it  gave  him  the  oppor- 
tunity of  receiving  badly  needed  reinforcements 
from  Normandy.  On  the  aoth  of  October,  six 
days  after  the  battle,  the  second  stage  of  the 
conquest  began;  William,  with  the  main  body 
of  his  army,  moved  out  of  Hastings,  leaving  a 
garrison  in  the  newly  built  castle,  and  marched 
across  the  border  of  Kent  to  Romney.  The  men 
of  the  latter  place  had  cut  off  a  body  of  Norman 
soldiers  who  had  landed  there  by  mistake  before 
the  battle  of  Hastings;  and  the  most  famous 
sentence  written  by  the  Conqueror's  first  bio- 
grapher relates  how  William  at  Romney  "took 
what  vengeance  he  would  for  the  death  of  his 
men." 1  Having  thus  suggested  by  example  the 
impolicy  of  resistance,  a  march  of  fifteen  miles 
between  the  Kentish  downs  and  the  sea  brought 

»  William  of  Poitiers,  139. 

216         William  the  Conqueror 

William  to  the  greatest  port  and  strongest  fortress 
in  south  England,  the  harbour  and  castle  of 
Dover.  The  foundation  of  the  castle  had  proba- 
bly been  the  work  of  Harold  while  earl  of  Wessex, 
and,  standing  on  the  very  edge  of  the  famous 
cliffs  overhanging  the  sea,  the  fortress  occupied 
a  site  which  to  Englishmen  seemed  impregnable, 
and  which  was  regarded  as  very  formidable  by 
the  Norman  witnesses  of  this  campaign.1  The 
castle  was  packed  with  fugitives  from  the  sur- 
rounding country,  but  its  garrison  did  not  wait 
for  a  formal  demand  for  its  surrender.  Very  prob- 
ably impressed  by  what  had  happened  on  the  pre- 
vious day  at  Romney,  they  met  William  half  way 
with  the  keys  of  the  castle,  and  the  surrender  was 
duly  completed  when  the  army  arrived  at  Dover. 
It  was  William's  interest  and  intention  to  treat  a 
town  which  had  submitted  so  readily  as  lightly  as 
possible,  but  the  soldiers,  possibly  suspecting  that 
the  booty  of  the  rich  seaport  was  to  be  withheld 
from  them,  got  out  of  hand  for  once,  and  the 
town  was  set  on  fire.  William  attempted  to  make 
good  the  damage  to  the  citizens,  but  found  it 
impossible  to  punish  the  offenders  as  he  wished, 
and  ended  by  expelling  a  number  of  Englishmen 
from  their  houses,  and  placing  members  of  his 
army  in  their  stead.2  Eight  days  were  spent  at 
Dover,  during  which  the  fortifications  of  the 
castle  were  brought  up  to  an  improved  standard, 
and  then  William  set  out  again  "thoroughly  to 

>  William  of  Poitiers,  139.  Guy  of  Amiens,  607. 

From  Hastings  to  York         217 

crush  those  whom  he  had  conquered."  But  before 
his  departure  he  appointed  the  castle  as  a  hospital 
for  the  invalided  soldiers;  for  dysentery,  which 
was  set  down  at  the  time  to  over-indulgence  in 
fresh  meat  and  strange  water,  had  played  havoc 
with  the  army.1 

With  the  surrender  of  Dover  William's  com- 
munications with  Normandy  were  firmly  secured, 
and  he  now  struck  out  directly  towards  his 
destined  capital,  along  the  Roman  road  which 
then,  as  at  every  period  of  English  history,  formed 
the  main  line  of  communication  between  London 
and  the  Kentish  ports.  Canterbury  was  the  first 
place  of  importance  on  the  way,  and  its  citizens 
followed  the  prudent  example  of  the  men  of  Dover. 
Before  William  had  gone  far  from  Dover,  the 
Canterbury  men  sent  messengers  who  •  swore 
fealty  to  him,  and  gave  hostages,  and — an  act 
which  was  a  more  unequivocal  recognition  of  his 
title  to  the  crown — brought  him  the  customary 
payment  due  yearly  from  the  city  to  the  king. 
From  this  point,  indeed,  William  had  little  reason 
to  complain  of  the  paucity  of  surrenders;  the 
Kentishmen,  we  are  told,  crowded  into  his  camp 
and  did  homage  "like  flies  settling  on  a  wound."2 
But  the  even  course  of  his  success  was  suddenly 
interrupted.  On  the  last  day  of  October,  he  took 
up  his  quarters  at  a  place  vaguely  described  by 
William  of  Poitiers  as  the  "Broken  Tower," 
and  was  there  seized  by  a  violent  illness,  which 

>  William  of  Poitiers,  140.  3  Guy  of  Amiens,  617. 

William  the  Conqueror 

kept  him  for  an  entire  month  incapable  of  moving 
from  the  neighbourhood  of  Canterbury.'  But,  if 
we  can  trust  the  chronology  of  our  authorities,  it 
was  during  this  enforced  delay  that  William 
received  the  submission  of  the  capital  of  Wessex. 
Winchester  at  this  time  had  fallen  somewhat  from 
its  high  estate  under  the  West  Saxon  kings;  along 
with  certain  other  towns  it  had  been  given  by  Ed- 
ward the  Confessor  to  his  wife  Eadgyth  as  part  of 
her  marriage  settlement,  and  it  was  now  little  more 
than  the  residence  of  the  dowager  queen.  On 
this  account,  we  are  told  that  William  thought  it 
would  be  unbecoming  in  him  to  march  and  take 
the  town  by  force  and  arms,  so  he  contented 
himself  with  a  polite  request  for  fealty  and  "trib- 
ute." Eadgyth  complacently  enough  agreed, 
took  counsel  with  the  leading  citizens,  and  added 
her  gifts  to  those  which  were  brought  to  William 
on  behalf  of  the  city.1  This  ready  submission 
was  a  fact  of  considerable  importance.  Win- 
chester lay  off  the  track  of  an  invader  whose 
objective  was  London,  and  apart  from  his  illness 
William  could  scarcely  have  afforded  to  part  with 
a  detachment  of  his  small  army  sufficiently  large 
to  make  certain  the  capture  of  the  town.  Yet 
the  old  capital  was  a  most  ancient  and  honourable 
city,  containing  the  hall  of  the  Saxon  kings,  in 

1  The  embassy  to  Winchester  is  only  mentioned  by  Guy  of 
Amiens,  who  omits  all  reference  to  William's  illness,  which 
is  derived  from  William  of  Poitiers.  Guy,  however,  places 
the  message  at  this  point  of  the  campaign. 

From  Hastings  to  York 

which  probably  were  deposited  the  royal  treasure 
and  regalia;  and  its  surrender  with  the  ostenta- 
tious approval  of  King  Edward's  widow  was  a 
useful  recognition  of  William's  claim  to  be  the 
true  heir  of  the  Saxon  dynasty.  In  his  deal- 
ings with  Winchester  the  Conqueror's  example 
was*  followed  by  William  Rufus,  Henry  L, 
and  Stephen,  though  the  paramount  neces- 
sity for  them  of  seizing  the  royal  hoard  at 
the  critical  moment  of  their  disputed  suc- 
cessions made  them  each  visit  the  royal  city  in 

On  his  recovery,  at  or  near  the  beginning  of 
December,  William  resumed  his  advance  on 
London.  Doubtless  Rochester  made  a  peaceful 
surrender,  but  we  have  no  information  as  to  this, 
nor  as  to  any  further  details  of  the  long  march  until 
it  brought  the  Conqueror  within  striking  distance 
of  London.  London,  it  is  plain,  was  prepared  for 
resistance;  and  the  narrow  passage  of  the  bridge, 
the  only  means  of  crossing  the  river  at  this  point, 
made  the  city  virtually  impregnable  from  the 
south.  William  was  not  the  man  to  waste  valua- 
ble troops  in  a  series  of  hopeless  assaults  when 
a  less  expensive  method  might  prevail,  and  on 
the  present  occasion  he  merely  sent  out  a  body 
of  five  hundred  knights  to  reconnoitre.  A  de- 
tachment of  the  English  was  tempted  thereby 
to  make  a  sally,  but  was  driven  back  across  the 
bridge  with  heavy  loss,  Southwark  was  burned  to 

»  Round,  Geoffrey  de  Mandeville,  4. 

William  the  Conqueror 

the  ground,1  and  William  proceeded  to  repeat 
the  plan  which  had  proved  so  successful  in  Maine 
three  years  before.  Abandoning  all  attempt  to 
take  the  city  by  storm,  he  struck  off  on  a  great  loop 
to  the  west,  and  his  passage  can  be  traced  clearly 
enough  in  Domesday  Book  by  the  devastation 
from  which  a  great  part  of  Surrey  and  Berkshire 
had  not  fully  recovered  twenty  years  afterwards. 
The  Thames  was  crossed  at  last  at  Wallingford, 
and  it  was  there  that  William  received  the  sub- 
mission of  the  first  Englishman  of  high  rank  who 
realised  that  the  national  cause  was  doomed, 
Stigand,  the  schismatic  archbishop  of  Canterbury, 
did  homage  and  swore  fealty,  explicitly  renouncing 
his  allegiance  to  Edgar  the  Etheling,  in  whose  ill- 
starred  election  he  had  played  a  leading  part.2 
The  weakness  of  Stigand's  canonical  position, 
which  was  certain  to  be  called  in  question  if 
William  should  ever  be  firmly  seated  on  the  throne, 
made  it  advisable  for  him  to  make  a  bid  for 
favour  by  an  exceptionally  early  submission, 
and  it  was  no  less  William's  policy  graciously  to 
accept  the  homage  of  the  man  who  was  at  least 
the  nominal  head  of  the  church  in  England.  Prob- 
ably neither  party  was  under  any  misapprehen- 
sion as  to  the  other's  motives ;  but  in  being  suffered 
to  enjoy  his  pluralities  and  appropriated  church 

*  This  is  clearly  meant  by  the  statement  of  William  of 
Poitiers  that  William's  troops  burned  "quicquid  sedificiorum 
citra  flumen  invenere." 

a  William  of  Poitiers,  141. 

From  Hastings  to  York         221 

lands  for  three  years  longer  Stigand  was  not  un- 
rewarded for  his  abandonment  of  the  national 
cause  at  the  critical  moment. 

The  exact  time  and  place  at  which  the  remaining 
English  leaders  gave  in  their  allegiance  are  rather 
uncertain.  There  is  some  reason,  in  the  distribu- 
tion of  the  lands  which  Domesday  implies  to  have 
undergone  deliberate  ravage  about  this  time,  to 
suppose  that,  even  when  William  was  on  the 
London  side  of  the  Thames,  he  did  not  march 
directly  on  the  city,  but  continued  to  hold  a 
north-easterly  course,  not  turning  southwards 
until  he  had  spread  destruction  across  mid- 
Buckinghamshire  and  south-west  Bedfordshire. 
The  next  distinct  episode  in  the  process  of  con- 
quest occurred  at  a  place  called  by  the  Worcester 
Chronicle  "Beorcham,"  where  allegiance  was 
sworn  to  William  on  a  scale  which  proved  that 
now  at  last  his  deliberate  policy  had  done  its 
intended  work,  and  that  the  party  of  his  rival 
had  fallen  to  pieces  without  daring  to  contest  the 
verdict  given  at  Hastings  in  the  open  field.  Edgar 
the  king-elect,  and  Archbishop  Ealdred  of  York, 
with  the  bishops  of  Worcester  and  Hereford,  and 
a  number  of  the  more  important  citizens  of 
London  "with  many  others  met  him  [William], 
gave  hostages,  made  their  submission,  and  swore 
fealty  to  him."  And  William  of  Poitiers  tells  us 
that  when  the  army,  had  just  come  in  sight  of 
London  the  bishop  and  other  magnates  came 
out,  surrendered  the  city,  and  begged  William 

222          William  the  Conqueror 

to  assume  the  crown,  saying  that  they  were 
accustomed  to  obey  a  king,  and  that  they  wished 
to  have  a  king  for  their  lord.  One  is  naturally 
tempted  to  combine  these  two  episodes,  but  this 
can  only  be  done  by  abandoning  the  old  identi- 
fication of  "Beorcham"  with  Great  Berkhamp- 
stead,  thirty  miles  from  London,  and  by  assuming 
the  surrender  to  have  taken  place  when  the  army 
appeared  on  the  edge  of  the  Hertfordshire  Chil- 
terns  overlooking  the  Thames  Valley,  fifteen 
miles  away,  from  the  high  ground  of  Little 
Berkhampstead  near  Hertford.1 

Whatever  the  exact  place  at  which  the  offer 
of  the  crown  was  made  to  William,  it  was  straight- 
way submitted  by  him  to  the  consideration  of  the 
chiefs  of  his  army.  Two  questions  were  laid 
before  them:  whether  it  was  wise  for  William 
to  allow  himself  to  be  crowned  with  his  kingdom 
still  in  a  state  of  distraction,  and — this  last  rather  a 
matter  of  personal  feeling  than  of  policy — whether 
he  should  not  wait  until  his  wife  could  be  crowned 
along  with  him.  Apart  from  these  considerations, 
the  assumption  of  the  English  crown  was  a  step 
which  concerned  William's  own  Normans  scarcely 
less  intimately  than  his  future  English  subjects. 
The  transformation  of  the  duke  of  the  Normans 

»  The  Worcester  Chronicle,  followed  by  Florence  of  Worces- 
ter, 1066,  asserts  that  Edwin  and  Morcar  submitted  at 
"Beorcham,"  but  William  of  Poitiers,  whose  authority  is 
preferable  on  a  point  of  this  kind,  implies  that  they  did  not 
give  in  their  allegiance  until  after  the  coronation.  On  the 
geography  relating  to  these  events  see  Baring.E.H.R.  xiii.,  17. 

From  Hastings  to  York         223 

into  the  king  of  the  English  was  a  process  which 
possessed  a  vital  interest  for  all  those  Normans 
who  were  to  become  members  of  the  English 
state,  and  William  could  not  well  do  less  than 
consult  them  on  the  eve  of  such  a  unique  event. 
As  to  the  ultimate  assumption  of  the  crown  by 
William,  no  two  opinions  were  possible :  Hamon, 
viscount  of  Thouars,  an  Aquitanian  volunteer 
of  distinction,  in  voicing  the  sentiments  of  the 
army,  began  by  remarking  that  this  was  the  one 
object  of  the  enterprise;  but  he  went  on  to  advo- 
cate a  speedy  coronation  on  the  ground  that  were 
William  once  crowned  king  resistance  to  him 
would  be  less  likely  undertaken  and  more  easily 
put  down.  With  quite  unintentional  irony  he 
added  that  the  wisest  and  most  noble  men  of 
England  would  surely  never  have  chosen  William 
for  their  king,  unless  they  had  seen  in  him  a 
suitable  ruler  and  one  under  whom  their  own 
possessions  and  honours  would  probably  be 
increased.  To  guard  against  any  wavering  on 
the  part  of  these  "prudentissimi  et  optimi  viri," 
William  immediately  sent  on  a  detachment  to 
take  possession  of  London  and  to  build  a  castle 
in  the  city,  while  he  himself,  during  the  few  days 
which  had  to  pass  before  the  Christmas  feast  for 
which  he  had  feed  his  coronation,  devoted  him- 
self to  sport  in  the  wooded  country  of  south 
Of  the  deliberations  within  London  which  led 

1  William  of  Poitiers,  142. 

224          William  the  Conqueror 

to  this  unconditional  surrender  on  the  part  of  the 
national  leaders,  we  know  little  with  any  certainty, 
but  it  is  not  improbable  that  at  some  stage  in  his 
great  march  William  had  entered  into  negotia- 
tions with  some  of  the  chief  men  in  the  etheling's 
party.  Our  most  strictly  contemporary  account 
of  these  events  *  makes  the  final  submission  the 
result  of  a  series  of  messages  exchanged  between 
the  duke  and  a  certain  "Esegar"  the  Staller,  on 
whom  as  sheriff  of  London  and  Middlesex  fell 
the  burden  of  providing  for  the  defence  of  the 
city.  We  are  given  to  understand  that  William 
sent  privately  to  "Esegar"  asking  that  he  should 
be  recognised  as  king  and  promising  to  be  guided 
in  all  things  by  the  latter's  advice.  On  receiving 
the  message  Esegar  decided,  rather  unwisely,  as 
the  event  proved,  to  try  and  deceive  William; 
so  he  called  an  assembly  of  the  eldest  citizens 
and,  laying  the  duke's  proposal  before  them, 
suggested  that  he  should  pretend  to  agree  with 
it  and  thus  gain  time  by  making  a  false  submission. 
We  are  not  told  the  exact  words  of  the  reply 
which  was  actually  sent,  but  we  are  informed 
that  William  saw  through  the  plan  and  contrived 
to  impress  the  messenger  with  his  own  greatness 
and  the  certain  futility  of  all  resistance  to  him  to 
such  an  extent  that  the  messenger  on  his  return, 
by  simply  relating  his  experiences,  induced  the 
men  of  London  to  abandon  the  etheling's  cause 
straightway.  The  tale  reads  rather  like  an 

>  Guy  of  Amiens,  687  et  seqq. 

From  Hastings  to  York          225 

improved  version  of  some  simpler  negotiations, 
but  that  is  no  reason  for  its  complete  rejection, 
and  we  may  not  unreasonably  believe  that,  in 
addition  to  intimidating  the  city  by  his  ravages 
in  the  open  country,  William  tried  to  accelerate 
matters  by  tampering  with  some  at  least  of  those 
who  were  holding  his  future  capital  against  him. 
On  Christmas  day  William  was  crowned  King  of 
England  in  Westminster  Abbey  by  Archbishop 
Ealdred  of  York,  a  clear  intimation  that  Stigand's 
opportunist  submission  would  not  avail  to  restore 
to  him  all  the  prerogatives  of  the  primacy.  The 
ceremony  was  conducted  with  due  regard,  as  it 
would  seem,  to  all  the  observances  which  had 
usually  attended  the  hallowing  of  the  Anglo- 
Saxon  kings,  only  on  the  present  occasion  it  was 
necessary  to  ask  the  assembled  people  in  French 
as  well  as  in  English  whether  they  would  accept 
William  as  their  king.  The  archbishop  of  York 
put  the  question  in  English,  Geoffrey,  bishop  of 
Coutances,  that  in  French,  and  the  men  of  both 
races  who  were  present  in  the  Abbey  gave 
a  vociferous  assent.  Unfortunately  the  uproar 
within  the  church  was  misunderstood  by  the 
guard  of  Norman  horsemen  who  were  stationed 
outside,  and  they,  imagining  that  the  new  sub- 
jects of  their  duke  were  trying  to  cut  him  down 
before  the  altar,  sought  to  relieve  his  immediate 
danger  by  setting  fire  to  the  wooden  buildings 
around,1  and  so  creating  a  diversion.  In  this 

1  William  of  Poitiers,  143. 

226          William  the  Conqueror 

they  were  quite  successful;   amid  indescribable 
confusion  the  congregation  rushed  headlong  out 
of  the  church,  some  to  save  their  own  property, 
and  some  to  take  advantage  of  so  exceptional  an 
opportunity  of  unimpeded  plunder.    The  duke 
and  the  officiating  clergy  were  left  almost  alone; 
and  in  the  deserted  abbey  William,  quivering 
with  excitement,1  became  by  the  ritual  of  unction 
and  coronation  the  full  and  lawful  successor  of 
Alfred  and  Athelstan.    But  before  the  crown  was 
placed  upon  his  head  the  Conqueror  swore  in 
ancient  words,  which  must  have  sounded  ironical 
amid  the  noise  and  tumult,  that  he  would  protect 
God's  churches  and  their  rulers,  would  govern  all 
the  people  subjected  to  him  with  justice,   would 
decree  and  keep  right  law,  and  would  quite  forbid 
all  violence  and  unjust  judgments.2    And  so  the 
seal  of  the  Church  was  set  upon  the  work  which 
had  been  in  fact  begun  on  that  morning,  three 
months  before,  when  William  and  his  army  dis- 
embarked on  the  shore  of  Pevensey. 

The  disorder  which  had  attended  the  coronation 
was  actually  the  result  of  a  misapprehension  on 
the  part  of  William's  own  followers,  but  he  evi- 
dently felt  that  the  possibility  of  a  sudden  rising 
on  the  part  of  the  rich  and  independent  city  was  a 
danger  which  should  not  be  ignored.  Accordingly, 
to  avoid  all  personal  risk,  while  at  the  same  time 
keeping  in  dose  touch  with  his  capital,  William 

i  "Vehementertrementem,"  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii.,  157. 
•  Florence  of  Worcester,  1066. 

From  Hastings  to  York         227 

moved  from  London  to  Barking,  and  stayed  there 
while  that  most  famous  of  all  Norman  fortresses, 
the  original  "Tower  of  London,"  was  being  built. 
Most  probably  it  was  during  this  stay  at  Barking 
that  William  received  the  homage  of  such  leading 
Englishmen  as  had  not  been  present  at  the  sub- 
mission on  the  Hertfordshire  downs.  In  particular 
Edwin  and  Morcar  would  seem  to  have  recognised 
the  inevitable  at  this  time1;  the  coronation  of 
William  as  king  of  all  England  by  the  metropolitan 
of  York  may  have  taught  them  that  a  division 
of  the  kingdom  no  longer  lay  within  the  range  of 
practical  politics.  At  any  rate  William  did  not 
think  that  it  would  be  well  for  him  to  let  them  out 
of  his  sight  for  a  season,  and  within  a  few  days 
of  the  New  Year  they  are  found  accompanying 
him  as  hostages  into  Normandy. 

Our  sole  knowledge  of  the  general  state  of  the 
country  at  this  most  critical  time  comes  from 
certain  scattered  writs  which  can  be  proved  to 
have  been  issued  during  the  few  weeks  immediately 
following  the  coronation.  The  information  which 
they  give  is  but  scanty;  they  were  of  course  not 
intended  to  convey  any  historical  information  at 
all,  but  they  nevertheless  help  us  to  answer  the 
important  question  how  much  of  England 
had  really  submitted  for  the  time  to  William's 
mle  by  the  end  of  1066,  and  they  do  this  in  two 
ways.  .On  the  one  hand,  they  were  witnessed  by 
some  of  the  more  important  men,  English  as 

i  William  of  Poitiers,  147-8- 

228         William  the  Conqueror 

well  as  Normans,  who  were  present  in  William's 
court;  on  the  other  hand,  we  may  safely  acquit 
William  of  the  folly  of  sending  his  writs  into 
counties  in  which  there  was  no  probability  that 
they  would  be  obeyed.  Foremost  among  the 
documents  comes  a  writ  referring  to  land  on 
the  border  of  Wiltshire  and  Gloucestershire, 
which  shows  us  King  William,  like  King  Edward 
before  him,  sending  his  orders  to  the  native 
authorities  of  the  shire — in  the  present  case  the 
bishops  of  Ramsbury  and  Worcester,  and  two 
thegns  named  Eadric  and  Brihtric,  with  whom, 
however,  Count  Eustace  of  Boulogne  is  signifi- 
cantly associated.1  From  the  other  side  of  the 
country  comes  a  more  famous  document  in  which 
William,  "at  the  request  of  Abbot  Brand,"  grants 
to  the  said  abbot  and  his  monks  of  Peterborough 
the  free  and  full  possession  of  a  number  of  lands 
in  Lincolnshire  and  Nottinghamshire.  Leofric, 
abbot  of  Peterborough,  had  been  mortally  wounded 
at  the  battle  of  Hastings,  and  on  his  death  the 
monks  had  chosen  their  provost  Brand  as  his 
successor.  He,  not  discerning  the  signs  of  the 
times,  had  gone  and  received  confirmation  from 
Edgar  the  Etheling,  of  whose  inchoate  reign  this 
is  the  only  recorded  event;  and  it  required  the 
mediation  of  "many  good  men"  and  the  payment 

1  This  writ  was  issued  in  favour  of  one  Regenbald,  who 
had  been  King  Edward's  chancellor.  It  was  printed  by 
Round  in  Feudal  England,  422,  with  remarks  oil  its  historical 





From  Hastings  to  York         229 

of  ten  marks,  of  gold  to  appease  the  wrath  of 
William  at  such  an  insult  to  his  clfl-ifn.  The 
present  charter  is  the  sign  of  William's  forgive- 
ness, but  for  us  its  special  interest  lies  in  the  fact 
that  it  shows  us  the  king's  word  already  current 
by  the  Trent  and  Humber,  while  the  appearance 
among  its  witnesses  of  "Marleswegen  the  sheriff " 
shows  that  the  man  to  whom  Harold  had  entrusted 
the  command  of  the  north  did  not  see  fit  to  con- 
tinue resistance  to  the  new  king  of  England.  * 

Much  more  evidence,  if  we  can  trust  it,  pointing 
in  the  same  direction,  can  be  derived  from  a 
number  of  writs  in  English,  which  were  appar- 
ently granted  at  this  time  in  favour  of  West- 
minster Abbey. 2  Nothing  could  be  more  natural 
than  that  William  at  this  time  should  show 
especial  favour  to  the  great  religious  house  within 
whose  precincts  he  had  so  recently  been  crowned, 
and  although  the  language  of  these  documents 
is  very  corrupt,  and  the  monks  of  Westminster 
Abbey  were  practised  and  successful  manufactur- 
ers of  forged  charters,  there  is  not  sufficient 
reason  for  us  to  condemn  the  present  writs  as 
spurious.  And  if  genuine,  and  correctly  dated, 
they  add  to  the  proof  that  William's  rule  was 

1  Monasticon,  i.,  383.  See  also  Round,  Commune  of  London, 

«  Monasticon,  i.,  301.  The  date  assigned  fere  to  these 
documents,  of  which  the  text  in  the  Monasticon  edition  is 
very  faulty,  is  a  matter  of  inference ;  but  the  personal  names 
which  occur  in  them  suggest  that  they  should  be  assigned  to 
the  very  beginning  of  William's  reign. 

230         William  the  Conqueror 

accepted  in  many  shires  which  had  never  yet  seen 
a  Norman  army.  The  king  greets  Leofwine, 
bishop  of  Lichfield  and  Earl  Edwin  and  all  the 
thegns  of  Staffordshire  in  one  writ;  Ealdred,  arch- 
bishop, and  Wulfstan,  bishop,  and  Earl  William 
and  all  the  thegns  of  Gloucestershire  and  Worces- 
tershire in  another;  and  if  his  rule  was  accepted 
in  these  three  western  shires,  and  also  in  the  eastern 
counties  represented  by  the  Peterborough  docu- 
ment, the  submission  of  the  midlands  and  in  fact 
of  the  whole  earldom  of  Mercia  would  seem  to 
follow  as  a  matter  of  course.  It  is  also  worth  not- 
ing that  no  document  relating  to  Northumbria, 
the  one  part  of  the  country  which  offered  a  really 
protracted  resistance  to  the  Norman  Conquest, 
can  be  referred  to  this  early  period  in  William's 

All  this,  therefore,  should  warn  us  against  un- 
derrating the  immediate  political  importance  of 
the  battle  of  Hastings.  It  did  much  more  than 
merely  put  William  into  possession  of  the  lands 
under  the  immediate  rule  of  the  house  of  God- 
wine;  the  overthrow  of  the  national  cause  which 
it  implied  brought  about  so  general  a  submission 
to  the  Conqueror  that,  with  the  possible  exception 
of  the  Northumbrian  risings,  all  subsequent  resist- 
ance to  him  may  with  sufficient  accuracy  be  de- 
scribed as  rebellion.  William,  it  would  seem,  at 
the  time  of  his  coronation,  was  the  accepted  king 
of  all  England  south  of  the  Humber,  and  the 
evidence  which  suggests  this  conclusion  suggests 

From  Hastings  to  York         231 

also  that  at  the  outset  of  his  reign  he  wished  to 
interfere  as  little  as  possible  with  the  native 
system  of  administration.  Even  in  the  counties 
which  had  felt  his  devastating  march,  English 
sheriffs  continued  to  be  responsible  for  the  gov- 
ernment of  their  wasted  shires.  Edmund,  the 
sheriff  of  Hertfordshire,  and  "Sawold,"  the  sheriff 
of  Oxfordshire,  may  be  found  in  other  writs  of  the 
Westminster  series  on  which  we  have  just  com- 
mented. The  Norman  Conquest  was  to  be  followed 
by  an  almost  complete  change  in  the  personnel  of 
the  English  administration,  but  that  change  was 
first  felt  in  the  higher  departments  of  government; 
the  sheriffs  of  Oxfordshire  and  Gloucestershire 
were  not  displaced,  but  Earl  William  Fitz  Osbern, 
Count  Eustace  of  Boulogne,  and  Bishop  Odo  of 
Bayeux  begin  to  be  held  responsible  for  the 
execution  of  the  king's  will  in  the  shires  where 
they  had  influence. 

To  the  close  of  1066  or  the  beginning  of  1067 
must  also  be  assigned  a  charter  of  exceptional 
form  and  some  especial  constitutional  interest 
in  which  King  William  grants  Hayling  Island, 
between  Portsmouth  and  Chichester,  to  the  mon- 
astery of  JumiSges.  In  this  document  William 
is  made  to  describe  himself  as  lord  of  Normandy 
and ' '  basileus ' '  of  England  by  hereditary  right,  and 
to  say  that,  "having  undertaken  the  government 
of  England,  he  has  conquered  all  his  enemies." 
One  of  these  enemies,  namely  Earl  Waltheof, 
attests  the  charter  in  question,  and  is  flanked  in 

23  2          William  the  Conqueror 

the  list    of  witnesses    by  Bishop   Wulfwig   of 
Dorchester,  who  died  in  1067,  and  by  one  Ingelric, 
a  Lotharingian  priest  who  is  known  to  have 
enjoyed  William's  favour  in  the  earliest  years 
of  his  reign.1     But  it  is  the  phrase  "heredita- 
rio  jure"  which  deserves  '  particular  attention. 
Rarely  used  in  formal  documents  in  later  years, 
when  the  chancery  formulas  had  become  stereo- 
typed, the  words  have,  nevertheless,  a  prospective 
as  well  as  a  reflexive  significance.     They  contain 
not  only  an  enunciation  of  the  claims  in  virtue  of 
which  King  William  had  "undertaken  the  govern- 
ment of  England,"  but  also  a  statement  of  the 
title  by  which  that  government  would  be  handed 
down  to  his  descendants.     For,  whatever  may 
have  been  the  title  to  the  crown  in  the  old  English 
state,  from  the  Norman  Conquest  onwards  it  "has 
clearly  become  ''hereditary"  in  the  only  sense  in 
which  any  constitutional  meaning  can  be  attached 
to  the  word.    Not  a  little  of  the  evidence  which 
has  been  adduced  in  favour  of  an  "elective" 
tenure  of  the  crown  in  Anglo-Norman  and  Angevin 
times  is  really  the  creation  of  an  arbitrary  con- 
struction of  the  terms  employed.     "  Hereditary 
right"  is  not  a  synonym  for  primogeniture;  the 
former  words  imply  no  more  than  that  in  any 
case  of  succession  the  determining  factors  would 
be  the  kinship  of  the  proposed  heir  to  the  late 
ruler  and  the  known  intentions  of  the  latter  with 

»  Round,  Calendar  of  Documents  Preserved  in  France,  No. 
1423-    See  also  Commune  of  London,  30. 

From  Hastings-  to  York         233 

respect  to  his  inheritance.  Disputed  successions 
there  were  in  plenty  in  the  hundred  and  fifty 
years  which  followed  the  Conquest,  but  the  es- 
sence of  the  dispute  in  each  case  was  the  question 
which  of  two  claimants  could  put  forward  the 
best  title  which  did  not  run  counter  to  hereditary 
principles.  The  strictest  law  of  inheritance  is 
liable  to  be  affected  by  extraneous  complications 
when  the  crown  is  the  stake  at  issue,  and  the  dis- 
qualification which  in  noo  attached  to  Robert 
of  Normandy  as  an  incapable  absentee,  in  1135 
to  Matilda  the  empress  as  a  woman  and  the 
wife  of  an  unpopular  foreigner,  in  1199  to 
Arthur  as  an  alien  and  a  minor,  should  not  be 
allowed  to  mask  the  fact  that  in  none  of  these 
cases  did  the  success  of  a  rival  claimant  contra- 
vene the  validity  of  hereditary  ideas.  It  was 
inevitable  that,  where  the  very  rules  of  inher- 
itance themselves  were  vague  and  fluctuating, 
the  application  made  of  them  in  any  given  instance 
should  be  guided  by  expediency  rather  than  by  a 
rigid  adherence  to  the  strict  forms  of  law;  yet 
nevertheless  we  may  be  sure  that  William  Rufus 
and  Henry  I.,  like  William  the  Conqueror,  would  to  hold  the  throne  of  England  not  otherwise 
than  "  hereditario  jure." 

At  Barking  the  submission  of  the  leading 
Englishmen  went  on  apace.  Besides  Edwin  and 
Morcar,  Copsige,  a  Northumbrian  thegn,  and 
three  other  Englishmen  called  Thurkill,  Siward, 
and  Ealdred,  were  considered  by  Norman  writers 

234         William  the  Conqueror 

men  of  sufficient  importance  to  deserve  men- 
tion by  name,  and  in  addition  to  these  shadowy 
figures  we  are  told  that  many  other  "nobles" 
also  came  in  at  this  time.1  No  apparent  notice 
was  taken  by  William  of  the  tardiness  of  their  sub- 
missions; all  were  received  to  favour,  and  among 
them  must  very  probably  be  included  the  victim  of 
the  one  great  tragedy  which  stands  out  above  all 
the  disaster  of  the  Conquest,  Waltheof,  the  son  of 
Siward.  Waltheof  was  confirmed  in  his  midland 
earldom  of  Northampton,  and  received  a  special 
mark  of  grace  in  being  allowed  to  marry  the  Con- 
queror's niece  Judith,  daughter  of  Enguerrand, 
the  count  of  Ponthieu  who  had  perished  in  the 
ambuscade  at  St.  Aubin  in  1054,  by  Adeliz,  the 
daughter  of  Robert  of  Normandy  and  Arlette. 
Nor  was  this  an  isolated  measure  of  conciliation, 
for  one  of  William's  own  daughters  was  promised 
to  Earl  Edwin,  and  in  general  it  would  seem  that 
at  this  time  any  Englishman  might  look  for 
favour  if  he  liked  to  do  homage  and  propitiate 
the  new  king  with  a  money  gift.  The  latter  was 
essential,  and  from  an  incidental  notice  in  the 
Anglo-Saxon  Chronicle,  and  a  chance  expression 
in  the  Domesday  of  Essex,  it  has  been  inferred  that 
a  formal  "redemption"  of  their  lands  on  the 
part  of  the  English  took  place  at  this  time.2  The 
direct  evidence  for  so  far-reaching  an  event  is 

i  William  of  Poitiers,  148;  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii.,  165. 
a  Peterborough  Chronicle,  1066.     "And  menn  guidon  him 
gyld  .  .  .  and'sithan  heora  land  bobtan." — D.  B.  ii.,  360. 

From  Hastings  to  York         235 

certainly  slight,  but  it  would  fall  in  well  with  the 
general  theory  of  the  Conquest  if  all  Englishmen 
by  the  mere  fact  of  their  nationality  were  held  to 
have  forfeited  their  lands.  William,  it  must  always 
be  remembered,  claimed  the  throne  of  England 
by  hereditary  right.  He  had  been  defrauded 
of  his  inheritance  by  the  usurpation  of  Harold, 
in  whose  reign,  falsely  so  called  according  to  the 
Norman  theory,  all  Englishmen  had  acquiesced, 
and  might  therefore  justly  incur  that  confiscation 
which  was  the  penalty,  familiar  alike  to  both 
races,  for  treason.  Stern  and  even  grotesque  as 
this  theory  may  seem  to  us,  it  was  something 
more  than  a  legal  fiction,  and  we  should  be  driven 
to  assume  for  ourselves  some  idea  of  the  kind 
even  if  we  did  not  possess  these  casual  expressions 
of  the  Anglo-Saxon  Chronicle  and  the  Domesday 
scribe.  On  the  one  hand,  all  Englishmen  had 
rejected  William's  claim,  and  so  many  as  could 
be  hurried  down  to  Hastings  in  time  had  resisted 
VIITTI  in  the  open  field;  on  the  other  hand,  the  num- 
ber of  Englishmen  who  were  still  holding  land  of 
the  king  twenty  years  after  the  Conquest  was 
infinitesimal  in  comparison  with  the  number  who 
had  suffered  displacement.  It  would  be  natural 
to  connect  these  two  facts,  but  nothing  is  more 
probable  in  itself  than  that,  before  repeated 
rebellions  on  the  part  of  the  English  had  sharpened 

"  Hanc  Terrain  habet  abbas  .  .  .  quando  redimebant  An- 
glici  terras  suas."  The  combination  of  these  statements 
led  Freeman  to  make  the  suggestion  referred  to  in  the  text. 

236         William  the  Conqueror 

the  edge  of  the  Norman  theory,  the  conquered 
race  was  given  an  opportunity  of  compounding 
for  its  original  sin  by  making  a  deprecatory  pay- 
ment to  the  new  lord  of  the  land. 

Nevertheless,  it  is  to  this  period  that  we  must 
undoubtedly  assign  the  initial  stages  of  the  pro- 
cess which,  before  twenty  years  were  over,  was  to 
substitute  an  alien  baronage  for  the  native  thegn- 
hood  of  England.    It  was  clearly  necessary  that 
William  should  give  some  earnest  at  least  of  the 
spoils  of  war  to  his  leading  followers,  and  the 
amount  of  land  already  at  his  disposal  must  have 
been  very  considerable.   The  entire  possessions  of 
the  house  of  Godwine  were  in  his  hands,  and  the 
one  form  of  statecraft  which  that  family  had 
pursued  with  consistency  and  success  had  been  the 
acquisition  of  landed  property,  nor  do  the  dubi- 
ous methods  by  which  much  of  that  property 
had  been  originally  acquired  seem  to  have  invali- 
dated King  William's  tenure  of  it.    The  battle  of 
Hastings,  moreover,  had  been  very  fatal  to  the 
land-owning  class  of  the  southern  shires,  and  no  ex- 
ception could  be  taken  to  William's  right  to  dis- 
pose of  the  lands  of  men  who  had  actually  fallen 
whilst  in  arms  against  him.    Even  in  this  simple 
way,  the  king  had  become  possessed  of  no  small 
territory  out  of  which  he  could  reward  his  follow- 
ers, and  the  complicated  nature  of  the  Anglo-Saxon 
land-law  assisted  him  still  further  in  this  respect. 
If,  for  instance,  a  thegn  of  Surrey  had  "com- 
mended" himself  and  his  land  to  Harold  as  earl  of 

From  Hastings  to  York         237 

Wessex,  King  William  would  naturally  inherit  all 
the  rights  and  profits  which  were  involved  in  the 
act  of  commendation:  he  could  make  a  grant  of 
them  to  a  Norman  baron,  and  thus,  without  direct 
injury  being  done  to  any  man,  the  Norman  would 
become  possessed  of  an  interest  in  the  land  in 
question,  which,  under  the  influence  of  the  feudal 
ideas  which  accompanied  the  Conquest,  would 
rapidly  harden  into  direct  ownership.  In  fact, 
there  exists  a  considerable  quantity  of  evidence 
which  would  suggest  that  a  portion  at  least  of 
the  old  English  land-owning  class  was  not  dis- 
placed so  much  as  submerged;  that  the  Norman 
nobility  was  superimposed  upon  it  as  it  were,  and 
that  the  processes  of  thought  which  underlay 
feudal  law  invested  the  newcomers  with  rights 
and  duties  which  made  them  in  the  eyes  of  the 
state  the  only  recognised  owners  of  the  lands  they 
held.  We  possess  no  detailed  account  of  the 
great  "confiscation"  earlier  than  the  Domesday 
Survey  of  twenty  years  after  the  battle  of  Hast- 
ings, and  apart  from  the  changes  which  must  have 
occurred  in  the  course  of  nature  in  that  time, 
the  great  survey  is  not  the  sort  of  authority  to 
which  we  should  look  for  an  accurate  register 
of  the  fluctuating  and  inconsistent  principles  of  a 
law  of  ownership  which  was  derived  from,  and  had 
to  be  applied  to,  conditions  which  were  unique  in 
Western  Europe.  But  a  priori  it  is  not  probable 
that  all  the  thousands  of  cases  in  which  an  English- 
land-owner  has  disappeared,  and  is  represented 

238         William  the  Conqueror 

by  a  Norman  successor,  should  be  explained  by 
exactly  the  same  principle  in  every  instance.  In 
one  case  the  vanished  thegn  may  have  set  out 
with  Harold  to  the  place  of  battle,  and  his  holding 
have  been  given  outright  by  the  new  king  to  some 
clamorous  follower;  in  another,  a  dependent  of 
the  English  earl  of  Mercia  may  have  become 
peaceably  enough  a  dependent  of  the  Norman 
earl  of  Shrewsbury,  and  have  sunk  into  the  undif- 
ferentiated  peasant  class  before  the  time  arrived 
for  Domesday  to  take  cognisance  of  him;  a 
third  Englishman  may  have  made  his  way  to  the 
court  at  Barking  and  bought  his  land  of  the  Con- 
queror for  his  own  life  only,  leaving  his  sons  to 
seek  their  fortunes  in  Scotland  or  at  Constanti- 
nople. The  practical  completeness  of  the  actual 
transfer  from  the  one  race  to  the  other  should 
not  lead  us  to  exaggerate  the  simplicity  of  the 
measures  by  which  it  was  brought  about.1 

One  word  should  perhaps  be  said  here  about 
the  character  of  the  Anglo-Saxon  thegnhood,  on 
which  the  Conqueror's  hand  fell  so  heavily.  It  was 
far  from  being  a  homogeneous  class.  At  one  end 
of  the  scale  were  great  men  like  Esegar  the  Staller 
or  Tochi  the  son  of  Outi,  whose  wide  estates  formed 
the  bulk  of  the  important  Domesday  fiefs  of 
Geoffrey  de  Mandeville  and  Geoffrey  Alselin. 

i  It  may  be  noted  that  there  exist  a  few  proved  cases  in 
which  a  Norman  baron  had  married  the  daughter  of  his 
English  predecessor,  so  that  here  the  king's  grant  to  the 
stranger  would  only  confirm  the  latter  in  possession  of  his 
wife's  inheritance. 

From  Hastings  to  York          239 

But,  on  the  other  hand,  a  very  large  proportion 
of  the  total  number  of  men  styled  "thegns"  can 
have  been  scarcely  superior  to  the  great  mass 
of  the  peasantry  whom  the  Norman  lawyers 
styled  collectively  "villeins."  When  we  find  in  a 
Nottinghamshire  village  five  thegns,  each  in  his 
"hafl,"  owning  between  them  land  worth  only 
ten  shillings  a  year, 1  we  see  that  we  must  beware 
of  the  romantic  associations  aroused  by  the  word 
"thegn."  These  men  can  have  been  distin- 
guished from  the  peasantry  around  them  by  little 
except  a  higher  personal  status  expressed  in  a  pro- 
portionately higher  wergild,  and  their  depression 
into  the  peasant  class  would  be  rendered  fatally 
easy  by  the  fact  that  the  law  of  status  was  the  first 
part  of  the  Anglo-Saxon  social  system  to  become 
antiquated.  When  the  old  rules  about  wer  and 
wite  had  been  replaced  by  the  new  criminal  juris- 
prudence elaborated  by  the  Norman  conquerors, 
the  one  claim  of  these  mean  thegns  to  superior 
social  consideration  vanished.  And  lastly,  it  should 
be  noted  that  where  the  Domesday  Survey  does 
reveal  members  of  the  thegnly  class  continu- 
ing to  hold  land  directly  of  the  king  in  1086,  it 
shows  us  at  the  same  time  that  the  class  is  very 
far  from  being  regarded  as  on  an  equality  with  the 
Norman  baronage.  The  king's  thegns  are  placed 
after  the  tenants  in  chief  by  military  service,  even 
after  the  king's  servants  or  "sergeants"  of  Nor- 
man birth;  they  are  only  entered  as  it  were  on 
i  D.  B.,  i.,  285  b.  (Normanton  on  Trent). 

240          William  the  Conqueror 

sufferance,  under  a  heading  to  themselves,  at  the 
very  end  of  the  descriptions  of  the  several  shires 
in  which  they  are  to  be  found.1  They  belonged 
in  fact  to  an  order  of  society  older  than  the  Nor- 
man military  feudalism  which  supplanted  them, 
and  by  the  date  of  the  Domesday  Survey  they 
were  rapidly  becoming  extinct  as  a  class  in  the 
shires  south  of  the  Humber,  but  no  financial 
record  like  Domesday  Book  could  be  expected  to 
tell  us  what  became  of  them.  Mere  violent  dis- 
possession would  no  doubt  be  a  great  part  of  the 
story  if  told,  but  much  of  the  change  would  have 
to  be  set  down  to  the  silent  processes  of  economic 
and  social  reorganisation. 

There  remains  one  other  legal  document,  more 
famous  than  any  of  these  which  we  have  con- 
sidered, which  was  most  probably  granted  at  or 
about  this  time.  The  city  of  London  had  to  be 
rewarded  for  its  genuine,  if  belated,  submission, 
and  the  form  of  reward  which  would  be  likely 
to  prove  most  acceptable  to  the  citizens  would 
be  a  written  security  that  their  ancient  customs 
and  existing  property  should  be  respected  by  the 
new  sovereign.  And  so  "William  the  king  greets 
William  the  bishop  and  Geoffrey  the  port-reeve 
and  all  the  burghers,  French  and  English,  within 
London,"  and  tells  them  that  they  are  to  enjoy 
all  the  customs  which  they  possessed  in  King 
Edward's  time,  that  each  man's  property  shall 
descend  to  his  children,  and  that  the  king  himself 

1  Victoria  History  of  Northamptonshire,  i.,  324. 

From  Hastings  to  York         241 

will  not  suffer  any  man  to  do  them  wrong.1  Yet, 
satisfactory  as  this  document  may  have  been  as 
a  pledge  of  reconciliation  between  the  king  and 
his  capital,  it  nevertheless  bears  witness  in  its 
formula  of  address  to  a  significant  change.  Geof- 
frey the  port-reeve  is  a  Norman;  he  is  very  prob- 
ably the  same  man  as  Geoffrey  de  Mandeville, 
the  grandfather  of  the  turbulent  earl  of  Essex  of 
Stephen's  day,2  and  his  appearance  thus  early  in 
the  place  of  Esegar  the  Staller  suggests  that  the 
latter  had  gained  little  by  his  duplicity  in  the  recent 
negotiations.  It  was  of  the  first  importance  for 
William  to  be  able  to  feel  that  London  at  least 
was  in  safe  hands;  he  could  not  well  entrust  his 
capital  and  its  new  fortress  to  a  man  who  had 
so  recently  held  the  city  against  him. 

William's  rule  in  England  was  by  this  time  so 
far  accepted  that  he  could  afford  to  recross  the 
Channel  and  show  himself  to  his  old  subjects 
invested  with  his  new  dignities.  The  regency  of 
Matilda  and  her  advisers  had,  as  far  as  we  know, 
passed  in  perfect  order,  but  it  was  only  fitting 
that  William  should  take  the  earliest  opportunity 
of  proving  to  the  men  of  the  duchy  the  perfect 
success  of  the  enterprise,  the  burden  of  which 
they  had  borne  with  such  notable  alacrity.  It 
was  partly  no  doubt  as  an  ostensible  mark  of  con- 
fidence in  English  loyalty  that,  before  crossing 
the  Channel,  William  dismissed  so  many  of  his 

«  Frequently  printed,  e.g.,  by  Stubbs,  Select  Charters,  82. 
9  Suggested  by  Round,  Geoffrey  de  Mcwdevitte,  439. 

242         William  the  Conqueror 

mercenary  troops  as  wished  to  return  home1 ;  but 
their  dismissal  coincides  in  point  of  time  with  a  gen- 
eral foundation  of  castles  at  important  strategic 
points  all  over  the  south  of  England.  The  Norman 
castle  was  even  more  repugnant  than  the  Norman 
man-at-arms  to  the  Anglo-Saxon  mind,  and  when 
the  native  chronicler  gives  us  his  estimate  of 
William's  character  and  reign  he  breaks  out  into 
a  poetic  declamation  as  he  describes  the  castles 
which  the  king  ordered  to  be  built  and  the  oppres- 
sion thereby  caused  to  poor  men.2  But  deeper 
than  any  memory  of  individual  wrong  must  have 
rankled  the  thought  that  it  was  these  new  castles 
which  had  really  rendered  hopeless  for  ever  the 
national  cause  of  England;  that  local  discontent 
might  seethe  and  murmur  in  every  shire  without 
causing  the  smallest  alarm  to  the  alien  lords 
ensconced  in  their  stockaded  mounds.  The  Shrop- 
shire-born Orderic,  writing  in  his  Norman  mon- 
astery, gives  us  the  true  military  reason  for  the 
final  overthrow  of  his  native  country  when  he 
tells  us  that  the  English  possessed  very  few  of 
those  fortifications  which  the  Normans  called 
castles,  and  that  for  this  reason,  however  brave 
and  warlike  they  might  be,  they  could  not  keep 
up  a  determined  resistance  to  their  enemies.  Wil- 
liam himself  had  learned  in  Normandy  how  slow 
and  difficult  a  task  it  was  to  reduce  a  district 

»  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii.t  167.    The  mercenaries  were  paid 
off  at  Pe  vensey  before  William  sailed  for  Normandy. 
*  Peterborough  Chronicle,  1087. 

From  Hastings  to  York         243 

guarded  by  even  the  elementary  fortifications 
.of  the  eleventh  century;  he  might  be  confident 
that  the  task  would  be  impossible  for  scattered 
bodies  of  rustic  Englishmen,  in  revolt  and  without 
trained  leadership. 

But  for  the  present  there  seems  to  have  been 
no  thought  of  revolt;  the  castles  were  built  with  a 
view  to  future  emergencies.  No  very  elaborate 
arrangements  were  made  for  the  government  of 
England  in  William's  absence.  It  was  entrusted 
jointly  to  William  Fits  Osbern,  the  duke's  oldest 
friend,  and  Odo  of  Bayeux,  his  half-brother,  who 
were  to  be  assisted  by  such  distinguished  leaders 
of -the  army  of  invasion  as  Hugh  de  Grentmais- 
nil,  Hugh  de  Montfort,  and  William  de  Warenne. 
The  bishop  of  Bayeux  was  made  primarily  respon- 
sible for  the  custody  of  Kent,  with  its  all-impor- 
tant ports,  and  the  formidable  castle  of  Dover. 
Hugh  de  Grentmaisnil  appears  in  command  of 
Hampshire  with  his  headquarters  at  Winchester; 
his  brother-in-law,  Humphrey  de  Tilleul,  had 
received  the  charge  of  Hastings  castle  when  it  was 
built  and  continued  to  hold  it  still;  William  Fitz 
Osbern,  who  had  previously  been  created  earl  of 
Hereford,  seems  to  have  been  entrusted  with  the 
government  of  all  England  between  the  Thames 
and  the  earldom  of  Bernicia,  with  a  possible  prior- 
ity over  his  colleagues.1  On  his  part,  William 

*  William  of  Poitiers  (149)  states  that  William  Fitz  Osbern 
was  left  in  charge  of  the  city  "Guenta, "  which  is  described 
as  being  situated  fourteen  miles  from  the  sea  which  divides  the 
English  from  the  Danes,  and  as  a  point  where  a  Danish  army 

244         William  the  Conqueror 

took  care  to  remove  from  the  country  as  many 
as  possible, of  the  men  round  whom  a  national 
opposition  might  gather  itself.  Edgar  the  Ethel- 
ing,  earls  Edwin,  Morcar,  and  Waltheof,  with 
Archbishop  Stigand,  and  a  prominent  Kentish 
thegn  called  Ethelnoth,  were  requested  to  accom- 
pany their  new  king  on  his  progress  through  his 
continental  dominions.1  We  cannot  but  suspect 
that  William  must  have  felt  the  humour  as  well 
as  the  policy  of  attaching  to  his  train  three  men 
each  of  whom  had  hoped  to  be  king  of  the  English 
himself ;  but  it  would  have  been  impossible  for  the 
native  leaders  to  refuse  to  grace  the  protracted 
triumphs  of  their  conqueror,  and  early  in  the  year 
the  company  set  sail,  with  dramatic  fitness,  from 

In  the  accounts  which  we  possess  of  this  visit,  it 
appears  as  little  more  than  a  series  of  ecclesiastical 
pageants.  William  was  wisely  prodigal  of  the 

might  be  likely  to  land.  These  indications  imply  that  Norwich 
(Venta  Icenorum)  was  Fits  Osbern's  headquarters,  although 
the  name  Guenta  alone  would  naturally  refer  to  Winchester 
(Venta  Belgarwri).  The  joint  regency  of  Odo  and  William 
is  asserted  by  Florence  of  Worcester,  1067,  and  the  phrase 
in  William  of  Poitiers,  that  Fitz  Osbern  "toto  regno  Aquili- 
onem  versus  praeesset,"  suggests  that  the  Thames  was  the 
boundary  between  his  province  and  that  of  Odo.  The  priority 
of  Fitz  Osbern  in  the  regency  is  suggested  by  the  fact  that  in 
a  writ  relating  to  land  in  Somerset,  he  joins  his  name  with 
that  of  the  king  in  addressing  the  magnates  of  the  shire. 
Somersetshire  certainly  formed  no  part  of  his  direct  sphere 
of  administration  at  the  time.  For  further  references  to  this 
writ  see  below,  Chapter  XI. 

»  The  fullest  list  of  names  is  given  by  Orderic,  ii.t  167. 

From  Hastings  to  York         245 

spoils  of  England  to  the  churches  of  his  duchy. 
The  abbey  church  of  Jumifeges,  whose  building 
had  been  the  work  of  Robert,  the  Confessor's  fa- 
vourite, was  visited  and  dedicated  on  the  ist  of 
July,  but  before  this  the  king  had  kept  a  mag- 
nificent Easter  feast  at  Fecamp1  where,  thirty- 
two  years  before,  Duke  Robert  of  Normandy 
had  prevailed  upon  the  Norman  baronage 
to  acknowledge  his  seven-year-old  illegitimate 
son  as  his  destined  successor.  The  festival  at 
F6canip  was  attended  by  a  number  of  nobles 
from  beyond  the  Norman  border,  who  seem  to 
have  regarded  Edwin  and  Morcar  and  their 
fellows  as  interesting  barbarians,  whose  long 
hair  gave  unwonted  picturesqueness  to  a  formal 
ceremony.  At  St.-Pierre-sur-Dive,  where  Wil- 
liam had  spent  four  weary  weeks  in  the  previous 
autumn,  waiting  for  a  south  wind,  another  great 
assembly  was  held  on  the  ist  of  May,  to  witness 
the  consecration  of  the  new  church  of  Notre 
Dame.  Two  months  later  came  the  hallowing 
of  Jumifcges;  and  the  death  of  Archbishop  Mau- 
ritius of  Rouen,  early  in  August,  seems  to  have 
given  occasion  for  another  of  these  great  councils 
to  meet  and  confirm  the  canonical  election  of  his 
successor.  The  monks  of  Rouen  cathedral  had 
chosen  no  less  a  person  than  Lanfranc  of  Caen  as 
their  head,  but  he,  possibly  not  without  a  pre- 
vious consultation  with  his  friend  and  lord  King 
William,  declined  the  office,  aiux  when  on  a 

*  William  of  Poitiers,  155. 

246          William  the  Conqueror 

second  election  John,  bishop  of  Avranches,  was 
chosen,  Lanfranc  went  to  Rome  and  obtained  the 
pallium  for  him.1  Whether  Lanfranc's.  journey 
possessed  any  significance  in  view  of  impending 
changes  in  the  English  Church,  is  unfortunately 
uncertain  for  lack  of  evidence;  but  his  refusal  of 
the  metropolitan  see  of  Normandy  suggests  that 
already  he  was  privately  reserved  for  greater 
things.  In  any  case,  he  is  the  man  to  whom  we 
should  naturally  expect  William  to  entrust  such 
messages  as  he  might  think  prudent  to  send  to 
the  Pope  concerning  his  recent  achievements  and 
future  policy  in  England. 

From  his  triumphal  progress  in  Normandy, 
William  was  recalled  by  bad  news  from  beyond 
the  Channel.  Neither  of  his  lieutenants  seems 
to  have  possessed  a  trace  of  the  more  statesman- 
like qualities  of  his  chief.  William  Fitz  Osbern, 
good  soldier  and  faithful  friend  to  William  as  .we 
may  acknowledge  him  to  have  been,  did  not  in 
the  least  degree  understand  the  difficult  task  of 
reconciling  a  conquered  people  to  a  change  of 
masters,  and  Bishop  Odo  has  left  a  sinister  mem- 
ory on  English  soil.  William's  departure  for  Nor- 
mandy was  signalised  by  a  general  outbreak  of 
the  characteristic  vices  of  an  army  of  occupation, 
in  regard  to  which  the  regents  themselves,  accord- 
ing to  the  Norman  account,  were  not  a  little  to 
blame.  Under  the  stimulus  of  direct  oppression, 
and  in  the  temporary  absence  of  the  dreaded 

»  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii.,  170. 

From  Hastings  to  York         247 

Conqueror,  the  passive  discontent  of  the  English 
broke  out  into  open  revolt  in  three  widely  sepa- 
rated parts  of  the  kingdom* 

Of  the  three  risings,  that  in  the  north  was 
perhaps  the  least  immediately  formidable,  but  the 
most  suggestive  of  future  difficulties  for  the  Nor- 
man rulers.  Copsige,  the  Northumbrian  thegn 
who  had  submitted  at  Barking,  had  been  invested 
with  the  government  of  his  native  province, 
but  the  men  of  that  district  continued  to  acknow- 
ledge an  English  ruler  in  Oswulf,  the  son  of 
Eadwulf,  who  had  been  subordinate  earl  of 
Bernitia  under  Morcar.  Copsige  in  the  first  in- 
stance was  able  to  dispossess  his  rival,  but  the 
latter  bided  his  time,  collected  around  him  a 
gang  of  outlaws,  and  surprised  Copsige  as  he 
was  feasting  one  day  at  Newburn-on-Tyne.  The 
earl  escaped  for  a  moment,  and  took  sanctuary 
in  the  village  church;  but  his  refuge  was  betrayed, 
the  church  was  immediately  set  on  fire,  and  he 
himself  was  cut  down  as  he  tried  to  break  away 
from  the  burning  building.1  The  whole  affair 
was  not  so  much  a  deliberate  revolt  against 
the  Norman  rule  as  the  settlement  of  a  private 
feud  after  the  customary  Northumbrian  fashion, 
and  it  may  quite  possibly  have  taken  place  before 
William  had  sailed  for  Normandy.  Oswulf  was 
able  to  maintain  himself  through  the  following 
stammer,  but  then  met  his  end  in  an  obscure 

*  Simeon  of  Durham,  under  the  year  1072.     He  asserts 
that  Oswulf  himself  slew  Copsige  in  the  door  of  the  church. 

248          William  the  ConqueiW 

struggle  with  a  highway  robber,  and  the  province 
was  left  without  an  earl  until  the  end  of  the  year, 
when  Gospatric,  the  son  of  Maldred,  a  noble  who 
possessed  an  hereditary  claim  to  the  title,  came 
to  court  and  bought  the  earldom  outright  from 
William.1  In  the  meantime,  however,  the  North- 
umbrians were  well  content  with  a  spell  of  uncon- 
tested  anarchy,  and  they  made  no  attempt  to 
assist  the  insurgents  elsewhere  in  the  country. 

The  leader  of  the  western  rising  was  a  certain 
Edric,  nicknamed  the  "Wild,"  whom  the  Normans 
believed  to  be  the  nephew  of  Edric  Streona,  the 
famous  traitor  of  Ethelred's  time.  This  man  had 
submitted  to  the  Conqueror,  but  apparently  re- 
fused to  accompany  him  into  Normandy,  and 
the  Norman  garrison  of  Hereford  castle  began 
to  ravage  his  lands.  In  this  way  he  was  driven 
into  open  revolt,  and  he  thereupon  invited 
Bleddyn  and  Rhiwallon,  the  kings  of  Gwynedd 
and  Powys,  to  join  him  in  a  plundering  expedition 
over  Herefordshire,  which  devastated  that  country 
as  far  as  the  river  Lugg,  but  cannot  have  done 
much  to  weaken  the  Norman  military  possession 
of  the  shire.2  Having  secured  much  booty,  Edric 
withdrew  into  the  hills  with  his  Welsh  allies, 
and  next  appears  in  history  two  years  later,  when 
he  returned  to  play  a  part  in  the  general  tumult 
which  disquieted  England  in  1069. 

The  most  formidable  of  the  three  revolts  which 

1  Simeon  of  Durham,  under  1070. 
*  Florence  of  Worcester,  1067. 

From  Hastings  to  York 

marked  the  period  of  William's  absence  had  for 
its  object  the  recovery  of  Dover  castle  from  its 
Norman  garrison.1  It  is  the  one  rising  of  the 
three  which  has  an  intelligible  military  motive, 
and  it  contains  certain  features  which  suggest 
that  it  was  planned  by  some  one  possessed  of 
greater  political  ability  than  can  be  credited  to  the 
ordinary  English  thegn.  Count  Eustace  of  Bou- 
logne, the  man  of  highest  rank  among  the  French 
auxiliaries  of  the  Conqueror,  had  already  received 
an  extensive  grant  of  land  in  England  as  the  re- 
ward for  his  services  in  the  campaign  of  Hastings, 
but  he  had  somehow  fallen  into  disfavour  with  the 
king  and  had  left  the  country.  The  rebel  leaders 
knowing  this,  and  judging  the  count  to  be  a 
competent  leader,  chose  for  once  to  forget  racial 
differences  in  a  possible  chance  of  emancipation, 
and  invited  him  to  cross  the  Channel  and  take 
possession  of  Dover  castle.  Eustace,  like  Stephen 
of  Blois,  a  more  famous  count  of  Boulogne,  found 
it  an  advantage  to  control  the  shortest  passage 
from  France  to  England;  he  embarked  a  large 
force  of  knights  on  board  a  number  of  vessels 
which  were  at  his  command,  and  made  a  night 
crossing  in  the  hope  of  finding  the  garrison  within 
the  castle  off  their  guard.  At  the  moment  of  his 
landing  Odo  of  Bayeux  and  Hugh  de  Montfort 
happened  to  have  drawn  off  the  main  body  of  their 
troops  across  the  Thames;  a  fact  which  suggests 
that  the  rebels  had  observed  unusual  secrecy 

>  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii.,  173. 

William  the  Conqueror 

in  planning  their  movements.  The  count  was 
therefore  able  to  occupy  the  town,  and  to  lay 
siege  to  the  castle  without  hindrance,  but  failed 
to  take  the  garrison  by  surprise,  as  he  had  hoped, 
and  met  a  spirited  resistance.  The  assault  lasted 
for  some  hours,  but  the  garrison  more  than  held 
their  own,  and  at  last  Eustace  gave  his  troops 
the  signal  to  retire  to  their  ships,  although  it  was 
known  that  a  delay  of  two  days  would  have 
brought  large  reinforcements  to  the  side  of  the 
insurgents.  It  must  also  have  been  known  that 
the  same  time  would  have  brought  Odo  of  Bayeux 
with  his  trained  troops  within  dangerous  proxim- 
ity to  Dover;  and  the  impossibility  in  the  eleventh 
century  of  successfully  conducting  a  siege  against 
time  is  some  excuse  for  Eustace's  rather  ignomin- 
ious withdrawal.  The  first  sign  of  retreat,  how- 
ever, was  turned  to  the  advantage  of  the  garrison, 
who  immediately  made  a  sally  and  threw  the 
besiegers  into  a  state  of  confusion  which  was 
heightened  by  a  false  rumour  that  the  bishop  of 
Bayeux  was  at  hand.  A  large  part  of  the  Boulogne 
force  was  destroyed  in  a  desperate  attempt  to 
reach  the  ships,  a  number  of  men  apparently 
trying  to  climb  down  the  face  of  the  cliffs  on 
which  Dover  castle  stands.  Count  Eustace  him- 
self, who  knew  the  neighbourhood,  became  sepa- 
rated from  his  men  and  escaped  on  horseback 
to  an  unrecorded  port,  where  he  was  fortunate 
enough  to  find  a  ship  ready  to  put  out  to  sea. 
The  English,  thus  deprived  of.  their  leader,  dis- 

From  Hastings  to  York         251 

persed  themselves  over  the  country,  and  so 
avoided  the  immediate  consequences  of  their 
rout,  since  the  Norman  force  in  Dover  was  not 
strong  enough  to  hunt  down  the  broken  rebels 
along  all  their  scattered  lines  of  retreat.1 

With  his  kingdom  outwardly  restored  to  order, 
but  simmering  with  suppressed  revolt,  William 
set  sail  from  Dieppe  on  the  6th  of  December, 
and  landed  at  Winchelsea  on  the  following  day. 
Queen  Matilda  was  still  left  in  charge  of  Nor- 
mandy, but  her  eldest  son,  Robert,  was  now  asso- 
ciated with  her  in  the  government,  and  Roger 
de  Beaumont,  who  had  been  the  leading  member 
of  her  council  during  her  regency  in  1066,  on  this 
occasion  accompanied  his  lord  to  England.2  The 
king  kept  his  Christmas  feast  at  Westminster;  a 
ceremony  in  which  the  men  of  both  races  joined  on 
an  equal  footing,  and  for  the  moment  there  may 
have  seemed  a  possibility  that  the  recent  dis- 
orders had  really  been  the  last  expiring  efforts 
of  English  nationalism.  Yet  the  prospect  for  the 
new  year  was  in  reality  very  threatening.  The 
political  situation  in  England  at  this  time  is  well 
described  by  Ordericus  Vitalis,  who  tells  us  that 
every  district  of  which  William  had  taken  mili- 
tary possession  lay  .at  his  command,  but  that 
in  the  extreme  north  and  west  men  were  only 

1  The  fullest  account  of  the  affair  at  Dover  is  given  by 
Orderic  (ii.f  172-5),  who  expands  the  slighter  narrative  of 
William  of  Poitiers. 

2  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii.,  178. 

William  the  Conqueror 

prepared  to  render  such  obedience  as  pleased  them- 
selves, wishing  to  be  as  independent  of  King 
William  as  they  had  formerly  been  independent 
of  King  Edward  and  his  predecessors.1  This  atti- 
tude, which  supplies  a  partial  explanation  of  the 
overthrow  of  England  in  1066,  and  a  partial 
justification  of  the  harrying  of  Northumbria  in 
1069,  supplies  also  a  clue  to  the  purpose  underly- 
ing William's  ceaseless  activity  during  the  next 
two  years.  At  Exeter,  Stafford,  and  York,  William 
was,  in  effect,  teaching  his  new  subjects  that  he 
would  be  content  with  nothing  less  than  the 
unqualified  submission  of  the  whole  land;  that 
England  was  no  longer  to  be  a  collection  of  semi- 
independent  earldoms,  but  a  coherent  state,  under 
the  direct  rule  of  a  king  identified  with  Wessex  no 
more  than  with  Northumbria  or  East  Anglia.  The 
union  of  England,  thus  brought  at  last  into  being, 
was  no  doubt  achieved  almost  unconsciously 
under  the  dictation  of  the  practical  expediency 
of  the  moment,  but  this  does  not  detract  from  the 
greatness  of  the  work  itself,  nor  from  the  strength 
and  wisdom  of  the  Conqueror  whose  memorial  it  is. 

Meanwhile,  danger  from  a  distant  quarter  was 
threatening  the  Norman  possession  of  England. 
Events  which  were  matters  of  very  recent  history 
had  proved  that  English  politics  were  still  an 
object  of  interest  to  the  rulers  of  Norway  and 
Denmark;  and  the  present  was  an  opportunity 
which  could  not  fail  to  attract  any  Scandinavian 

i  Ordericus  Vitalis.,  ii.,  179. 

From  Hastings  to  York         253 

prince  who  would  emulate  the  glory  of  the  great 
kings  of  the  last  generation.  The  death  of  Harold 
Hardrada,  which  had  thrown  the  Norwegian 
claims  on  England  into  abeyance  for  a  time,  had 
left  Swegn  Estrithson,  king  of  Denmark,  unques- 
tionably the  most  considerable  personage  in  the 
Scandinavian  world;  and  to  him  accordingly  the 
English  leaders,  or  such  at  least  of  them  as  were 
at  liberty,  had  appealed  for  help  during  the  pre- 
ceding months.1  As  a  Dane  himself  and  the 
nephew  of  Cnut,  Swegn  Estrithson  could  com- 
mand the  particular  sympathy  of  the  men  of 
Northumbria  and  would  not  be  unacceptable 
to  the  men  of  the  southern  Danelaw;  no  native 
claimant  possessed  similar  advantages  in  respect 
to  anything  like  so  large  a  part  of  England.  Swegn 
indeed,  whose  prevailing  quality  was  a  caution 
which  contrasts  strangely  with  the  character  of 
his  Danish  ancestors  and  of  his  great  Norwegian 
rival,  had  delayed  taking  action  up  to  the  present, 
but  it  was  the  fear  that  a  northern  fleet  might 
suddenly  appear  in  the  Humber  which  had  really 
been  the  immediate  cause  of  William's  return  from 

At  this  moment,  with  the  imminent  probability 
of  invasion  hanging  over  the  north  and  east  of  his 
kingdom,  William  was  called  away  from  his  head- 
quarters at  London  by  the  necessity  of  suppressing 
a  dangerous  rising  in  the  extreme  west.  It  is 

»  "Ad  Danos,  vel  alio,  unde  auxilium  aliquod  speratur, 
legates  missitant."— William  of  Poitiers,  157. 

254          William  the  Conqueror 

probable  that  William's  rule  had  not  yet  been 
commonly  recognised  beyond  the  eastern  border 
of  Devonshire,  although  on  the  evidence  of 
writs  we  know  that  Somerset  was  already  showing 
him  ostensible  obedience.  But  the  main  interest 
of  the  following  episode  lies  in  the  strangely 
independent  attitude  adopted  by  the  city  of 
Exeter.  In  the  eleventh  century  the  capital  of 
Devon  could  undoubtedly  claim  to  rank  with 
York,  Norwich,  and  Winchester  among  the  half- 
dozen  most  powerful  cities  in  England.  With  its 
strong  fortifications  which  made  it  in  a  sense 
the  key  of  the  Damnonian  peninsula,  commanding 
also  important  trade  routes  between  England, 
Ireland,  and  Brittany,  Exeter  in  English  hands 
would  be  a  standing  menace  to  the  Norman  rule 
scarcely  less  formidable  than  an  independent  York. 
The  temper  of  the  citizens  was  violently  anti- 
Norman,  and  they  proceeded  to  take  energetic 
measures  towards  making  good  their  defence, 
going  so  far  as  to  impress  into  their  service  such 
foreign  merchants  within  the  city  as  were  able 
to  bear  arms.  We  are  also  told  that  they  tried 
to  induce  other  cities  to  join  them  in  resisting 
the  foreign  king,  and  it  is  not  impossible  that 
they  may  have  drawn  reinforcements  from  the 
opposite  shore  of  Brittany.  It  was  of  the  first 
importance  for  William  to  crush  a  revolt  of  this 
magnitude  before  it  had  time  to  spread,  but 
before  taking  action  and  probably  in  order  to 
test  the  truth  of  the  reports  which  had  come  to 

From  Hastings  to  York         255 

him  as  to  what  was  going  on  in  Devonshire,  he 
sent  to  demand  that  the  chief  men  of  Exeter  should 
take  the  oath  of  allegiance  to  him.  They  in  reply 
proposed  a  curious  compromise,  saying  that  they 
were  willing  to  pay  the  customary  dues  of  their 
city  to  the  king,  but  that  they  would  not  swear 
allegiance  to  him  nor  admit  him  within  their 
walls.  This  was  almost  equivalent  to  defiance  and 
elicited  from  William  the  remark  that  it  was 
not  his  custom  to  have  subjects  on  such  terms. 
Negotiations  in  fact  ceased;  Devonshire  became 
a  hostile  country,  and  William  marched  from 
London,  making  the  experiment,  doubly  bold 
at  such  a  crisis,  of  calling  out  the  native  fyrd  to 
assist  in  the  reduction  of  their  countrymen. 

The  men  of  Exeter,  on  hearing  the  news  of 
William's  approach,  began  to  fear  that  they  had 
gone  too  far ;  and,  as  the  king  drew  near,  the  chief 
men  of  the  city  came  out  to  meet  him,  bringing 
hostages  and  making  a  complete  capitulation.  Wil- 
liam halted  four  miles  from  the  city,  but  the  envoys 
on  their  return  found  that  their  fellow-citizens, 
unwilling  apparently  to  trust  to  the  king's  mercy, 
were  making  preparations  for  a  continued  resist- 
ance, and  they  threw  in  their  lot  with  their 
townsmen.  William  was  filled  with  fury  on  hear- 
ing the  news.  His  position  was  indeed  sufficiently 
difficult.  It  was  the  depth  of  winter;  part  of  his 
army  was  composed  of  Englishmen  whose  loyalty 
might  not  survive  an  unexpected  check  to  his 
arms,  and  Swegn  of  Denmark  might  land  in  the 

256          William  the  Conqueror 

east  at  any  moment.  Before  investing  the  city 
William  tried  a  piece  of  intimidation,  and  when 
the  army  had  moved  up  to  the  walls,  one  of 
the  hostages  was  deliberately  blinded  in  front 
of  the  gate.  But  it  would  seem  that  the  deter- 
mination of  the  citizens  was  only  strengthened 
by  the  ghastly  sight,  and  for  eighteen  days  William 
was  detained  before  the  gates  of  Exeter,  despite 
his  constant  endeavours  either  to  carry  the  walls 
by  assault  or  to  undermine  them. 

At  last,  after  many  of  his  men  had  fallen  in  the 
attack,  it  would  seem  that  the  Conqueror  for 
once  in  his  life  was  driven  to  offer  terms  to  the 
defenders  of  a  revolted  city.  The  details  of  the 
closing  scene  of  the  siege  are  not  very  clear;  but  it 
is  probable  that  the  more  important  citizens  were 
now,  as  earlier  in  the  struggle,  in  favour  of  sub- 
mission, and  that  they  persuaded  their  fellows 
to  take  advantage  of  King  William's  offer  of  peace. 
They  had  indeed  a  particular  reason  for  trying  to 
secure  the  royal  favour,  for  the  chief  burden  of 
taxation  in  any  town  fell  naturally  upon  its 
wealthier  inhabitants,  and  on  the  present  occasion 
William  seems  to  have  given  a  promise  that  the 
customary  payments  due  to  the  king  from  the 
town  should  not  be  increased.  The  poorer  folk 
of  Exeter  secured  a  free  pardon  and  a  pledge  of 
security  for  life  and  property,  but  the  conduct 
of  their  leaders  undoubtedly  implies  a  certain 
lack  of  disinterested  zeal  for  the  national  cause; 
the  native  chrooicler  significantly  remarks 

From  Hastings  to  York         257 

that  the  citizens  gave  up  the  town  "  because  the 
thegns  had  betrayed  them."  The  other  side  of  the 
picture  is  shown  by  Ordericus  Vitalis,  who  de- 
scribes how  "a  procession  of  the  most  beautiful 
maidens,  the  elders  of  the  city,  and  the  cleigy 
carrying  their  sacred  books  and  holy  vessels1' 
went  out  to  meet  the  king,  and  made  submission 
to  him.  It  has  been  conjectured  with  great  proba- 
bility that  the  real  object  of  the  procession  was  to 
obtain  from  the  king  an  oath  to  observe  the 
terms  of  the  capitulation  sworn  on  the  said 
"sacred  books  and  holy  vessels,"  and  in  any  case 
the  witness  of  Domesday  Book  shows  that  Exeter 
suffered  no  fiscal  penalty  for  its  daring  resistance. 
To  keep  the  men  of  Exeter  in  hand  for  the  future 
a  castle  was  built  and  entrusted  to  Baldwin  de 
Meules,  the  son  of  Count  Gilbert  of  Brionne,  but 
this  was  no  mark  of  particular  disfavour,  for  it 
was  universally  a  matter  of  policy  for  William 
to  guard  against  civic  revolts  by  the  foundation 
of  precautionary  fortresses.1 

One  immediate  consequence  of  the  fall  of 
Exeter  was  the  flight  and  final  exile  of  one  of  the 
two  greatest  ladies  in  England  at  this  time. 
Gytha,  the  niece  of  Cnut,  and  the  widow  of  Earl 
Godwine,  through  whom  Harold  had  inherited  a 
strain  of  royal  blood,  had  taken  refuge  in  Exeter, 
and  now,  before  William  had  entered  the  city, 
made  her  escape  by  water  with  a  number  of  other 

»  The  story  of  the  revolt  of  Exeter  is  critically  discussed 
by  Round,  Feudal  England,  431-45$- 

258          William  the  Conqueror 

women,  who  probably  feared  the  outrages  which 
were  likely  to  occur  upon  the  entry  of  the  northern 
army.  They  must  have  rounded  the  Land's 
End,  and  sailed  up  the  Bristol  Channel,  for  they 
next  appear  as  taking  up  their  quarters  on  a  dismal 
island  known  as  the  Flat  Holme,  off  the  coast  of 
Glamorgan.  Here  they  stayed  for  a  long  while, 
but  at  last  in  despair  the  fugitives  left  their 
cheerless  refuge  and  sailed  without  molestation 
to  Flanders,  where  they  landed,  and  were  hospi- 
tably entertained  at  St.  Omer.  Nothing  more 
is  recorded  of  the  countess;  but  her  daughter 
Gttnhild  entered  the  monastic  life  and  died  in  peace 
in  Flanders  in  1087,  some  two  months  before  the 
great  enemy  of  her  house  expired  at  Rouen. 

It  is  likely  enough  that  Gytha  chose  the  Flat 
Holme  as  her  place  of  refuge  with  the  hope  of 
joining  in  a  movement  which  at  this. time  was 
.  gathering  head  among  the  English  exiles  in  Ire- 
land. It  is  at  least  certain  that,  before  the  summer 
was  over,  three  of  Harold's  illegitimate  sons,  who 
had  spent  the  previous  year  with  the  king  of 
Dublin,  suddenly  entered  the  Devon  seas  with 
fifty-four  ships.  They  harassed  the  south  coast 
of  the  Bristol  Channel,  and  even  made  bold  to 
enter  the  Avon  and  attack  Bristol  itself,  but  were 
driven  off  without  much  difficulty  by  the  citizens 
of  the  wealthy  port,  and  sailing  back  disem- 
barked at  some  unknown  point  on  the  coast  of 
Somerset.  Here  they  were  caught  and  soundly 
beaten  by  the  Somersetshire  natives  under  the 

From  Hastings  to  York         259 

leadership  of  Ednoth,  an  Englishman  who  had 
been  master  of  the  horse  to  Edward  the  Con- 
fessor, but  who  was  dearly  ready  to  do  loyal 
service  to  the  new  king.  Ednoth  was  killed  in  the 
battle,  but  the  raiders  were  compelled  to  take 
to  their  ships,  and  after  a  brief  spell  of  desultory 
ravage  along  the  coast  they  sailed  back  to  Ireland, 
having  done  nothing  to  weaken  the  Norman  grip 
upon  the  south-west  of  England,  but  gaining  suffi- 
cient plunder  to  induce  them  to  repeat  their 
expedition  in  the  course  of  the  following  year.1 
It  was  well  for  William  that  even  at  the  cost 
of  some  loss  of  prestige  he  had  gained  possession 
of  Exeter  in  the  first  months  of  1068,  for  the 
remainder  of  the  year  saw  a  general  outburst 
of  revolt  against  the  Norman  rule.  Before  return- 
ing to  the  east  of  England,  William  made  an  armed 
demonstration  in  Cornwall;  and  it  was  very  pos- 
sibly at  this  time  that  he  established  his  half- 
brother,  Count  Robert  of  Mortain,  in  a  territorial 
position  in  that  Celtic  land  which  shows  that  the 
Conqueror  was  quite  willing  upon  occasions  to 
create  compact  fiefs  according  to  the  continental 
model.  Count  Robert  was  never  invested  with 
any  forma]  earldom  of  Cornwall,  but  in  the  western 
peninsula  he  occupied  a  position  of  greater  terri- 
torial strength,  if  of  lower  official  rank,  than  that 
held  by  his  brother,  Bishop  Odo,  in  his  distant 
shire  of  Kent.  The  revolt  of  Exeter  had  no 

1  Worcester  Chronicle,  1067;  Florence  of  Worcester,  1068; 
William  of  Malmesbury,  Gesta  Regwn,  ii.f  312. 

260          William  the  Conqueror 

doubt  taught  William  that  it  would  be  advisable 
to  take  any  future  rising  in  Devonshire  in  the 
rear  by  turning  Cornwall  into  a  single  Norman 
estate,  and  his  own  presence  with  an  army  in 
the  west  at  this  time  would  go  far  to  simplify  the 
preliminary  work  of  confiscation. 

His  Cornish  progress  over,  King  William  marched 
eastwards,  disbanded  the  fyrd,  and  kept  his  Easter 
feast  (March  23d)  at  Winchester.  For  a  few 
weeks  the  land  was  at  peace,  and  during  this 
breathing  space  the  Duchess  Matilda  came  across 
into  England,  and  was  crowned  at  Westminster 
on  Whitsunday  (May  nth),  by  Ealdred,  arch- 
bishop of  York.  The  event  was  a  clear  expression 
of  William's  desire  to  reign  as  an  English  king, 
for  Matilda  stayed  in  England,  and  her  fourth 
son,  Henry,  who  was  born  early  in  the  next  year, 
possessed  in  English  eyes  the  precedence,  which 
by  Anglo-Saxon  custom  belonged  to  the  son  of 
a  crowned  king  and  his  lady,  born  in  the  land. 
Robert,  the  destined  heir  of  Normandy,  seems 
to  have  remained  in  charge  of  the  duchy,  and 
Richard,  the  Conqueror's  second  son,  probably 
accompanied  his  mother  across  the  Channel.  By 
a  fortunate  chance,  we  happen  to  know  with 
exactitude  the  names  of  those  who  were  present 
at  the  Whitsuntide  festival,1  and  the  list  is  signifi- 
cant. Among  the  members  of  the  clerical  estate 

i  The  source  of  our  information  is  an  original  charter 
granted  by  William  to  the  church  of  St,  Martin's  2e  Grand 
on  May  nth. — E.  H.  R-  *ii.,  109. 

From  Hastings  to  York         261 

the  Norman  hierarchy  supplied  the  bishops  of 
Bayeux,  Lisieux,  and  Coutances,  but  the  arch- 
bishops of  Canterbury  and  York  and  the  bishops 
of  Exeter,  Ramsbury,  Wells,  and  London  were  all 
of  English  appointment,  although  the  last  four  of 
them  were  of  foreign  birth,  and  the  eight  abbots 
who  were  present  were  also  men  of  King  Edward's 
day.  The  laymen  who  attended  the  ceremony 
formed  a  more  heterogeneous  group;  Edwin, 
Morcar,  and  Waltheof  seem  strangely  out  of  place 
side  by  side  with  the  counts  of  Mortain  and  Eu; 
with  William  Fitz  Osbern,  Roger  de  Montgomery 
and  Richard,  the  son  of  Count  Gilbert  of  Brionne. 
The  company  which  came  together  in  Westminster 
Abbey  on  that  Whitsunday  supplies  a  striking 
picture  of  the  old  order  which  was  changing  but 
had  not  yet  given  place  to  the  new,  and  it  is  a 
notable  thing  that  the  ancestress  of  all  Plantage- 
net,  Tudor,  and  Stuart  kings  should  have  been 
crowned  in  the  sight  of  men  who  had  held  the 
highest  place  in  the  realm  in  the  last  days  of 
independent  England. 

This  solemn  inauguration  of  the  new  dynasty 
can  have  been  passed  but  a  few  weeks  before 
William  had  to  resume  the  dreary  task  of  sup- 
pressing his  irreconcilable  subjects.  After  a  year 
and  a  half  of  acquiescence  in  the  Norman  rule, 
Earls  Edwin  and  Morcar  suddenly  made  a  spas- 
modic attempt  to  raise  the  country  against 
the  foreigners.  Their  position  at  William's  court 
must  have  been  ignominious  at  the  best,  and 

262      ,    William  the  Conqueror 

although,  as  we  have  seen,  the  king  had  promised 
one  of  his  daughters  in  marriage  to  Edwin,  he  had 
withheld  her  up  to  the  present  in  deference  to  the 
jealousy  which  his  Normans  felt  for  the  favoured 
Englishman.  Under  the  smart  of  their  personal 
grievances,  Edwin  and  his  brother  broke  away 
from  the  court,  and  headed  a  revolt  which,  al- 
though general  in  character,  seems  to  have 
received  most  support  in  Morcar's  earldom  of 
Northumbria.  The  rising  is  also  marked  by  a 
revival  of  the  alliance  between  the  house  of 
Leofric  and  the  Welsh  princes  which  had  been 
an  occasional  cause  of  disquiet  during  the  Confes- 
sor's reign;  for  Bleddyn,  the  king  of  North  Wales, 
came  to  the  assistance  of  Edwin  and  Morcar,1  as 
in  the  previous  year  he  had  joined  the  Hereford- 
shire raid  of  Edric  the  Wild.  The  rising  was  the 
occasion  for  a  general  secession  of  the  leading 
Englishmen  from  William's  court,  for  Edgar  the 
Etheling  and  his  mother  and  sisters,  together 
with  Marleswegen  and  many  prominent  North- 
umbrians, headed  by  Gospatric,  their  newly  ap- 
pointed earl,  probably  fearing  that  they  might  be 
held  implicated  in  the  guilt  of  Edwin  and  Morcar, 
made  a  speedy  departure  for  the  north  country.2 

*  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii.,  183. 

a  The  rising  of  Edwin  and  Morcar  is  not  mentioned  by  the 
English  authorities,  which  are  only  concerned  with  the 
movements  of  Edgar  and  his  companions.  Florence  of 
Worcester  says  that  the  latter  fled  the  court  through  the  fear 
of  imprisonment.  They  had  given  no  known  cause  of  offence 
since  their  original  submission,  but  it  is  probable  that  they 

From  Hastings  to  York         263 

The  focus  of  disturbance  was  evidently  the 
city  of  York.  It  is  not  probable  that  William 
had  hitherto  made  any  systematic  attempt  to 
establish  Norman  rule  beyond  the  Humber,  but 
we  get  a  glimpse  of  the  venerable  Archbishop 
Aldred  making  strenuous  efforts  to  restrain  the 
violence  of  the  men  of  his  city.  His  protestations 
were  useless,  and  while  the  Northumbrians  were 
enthusiastically  preparing  for  war  after  the  manner 
of  their  ancestors,  William  was  taking  steps  which 
brought  the  revolt  to  an  end  within  a  few  weeks 
without  the  striking  of  a  single  blow. 

It  is  in  connection  with  these  events  that 
Orderic  makes  the  observations  which  have 
already  been  quoted  about  the  part  played  by  the 
Norman  castle  in  thwarting  the  bravest  efforts 
of  insurgent  Englishmen.  Some  of  the  greatest 
fortresses  of  medieval  England  derive  their  origin 
from  the  defensive  posts  founded  by  William 
during  the  war  of  1068.  c  £  In  consequence  of  these 
commotions,"  said  Orderic,  "the  King  carefully 
surveyed  the  most  inaccessible  points  in  the 
country,  and,  selecting  suitable  places,  fortified 
them  against  the  raids  of  the  enemy."1  But 
besides  these  "inaccessible  points"  we  have  seen 
that  William  made  it  a  matter  of  regular  policy 
to  plant  a  castle  in  all  the  greater  boroughs  and 

would  have  been  kept  in  close  restraint  if  they  had  been  in 
the  king's  power  when  the  northern  revolt  broke  out  and  that 
they  fled  to  avoid  this. 
i  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii,,  184. 

264          William  the  Conqueror 

along  all  the  more  important  lines  of  road  in  the 
country,  and,  the  present  campaign  affords  an 
excellent  example  of  his  practice  in  this  matter. 
The  first  fortress  recorded  as  having  been  built 
at  this  time  was  the  humble  earthwork  which 
developed  in  the  next  two  centuries  into  the 
magnificent  castle  of  Warwick.  Henry  de  Beau- 
mont, son  of  the  Roger  de  Beaumont  who  had 
been  Queen  Matilda's  adviser  in  1066,  was  placed 
in  command  of  it,  and  the  Conqueror  marched 
northward;  but,  possibly  before  he  had  left  the 
Avon  valley,  Edwin  and  Morcar,  now  as  ever 
unable  to  follow  a  consistent  course  of  action, 
suddenly  abandoned  their  own  cause  and  made  an 
ignominious  submission.  The  surrender  of  the 
rebel  leaders  did  not  affect  the  king's  movements; 
he  continued  his  advance,  probably  harrying  the 
plain  of  Leicester  as  he  passed  across  it,  and  at 
Nottingham,  on  a  precipitous  cliff  overhanging 
the  town,  he  placed  another  castle,  commanding 
the  Trent  valley  at  the  point  where  the  river 
is  crossed  by  one  of  the  great  roads  from  London 
to  the  north  of  England.  The  march  was  resumed 
without  delay,  and  at  some  point  on  the  road 
north  of  Nottingham  the  army  was  met  by  the 
citizens  of  York,  bringing  the  keys  of  their  city, 
and  offering  to  give  hostages  for  their  future  good 
behaviour.  The  defection  of  Edwin  and  Morcar 
had  deprived  the  rising  of  its  nominal  leaders, 
and  the  military  occupation  of  Nottingham  had 
threatened  to  isolate  the  revolted  area;  but  it  is 

From  Hastings  to  York         265 

also  probable  that  William's  rapid  movements 
had  surprised  the  defenders  of  the  northern  capital 
before  their  preparations  were  completed.  At 
York  itself  a  certain  Archil,  who  was  regarded  by 
the  Normans  as  the  most  powerful  man  in  North- 
umbria,  came  in  to  William  and  gave  his  son  as  a 
hostage,  and  on  the  line  of  the  city  walls,  at  the 
junction  of  the  rivers  Ouse  and  Foss,  there  arose 
the  third  castle  of  this  campaign,  now  represented 
only  by  the  mound  on  which  rests  the  famous 
medieval  keep  known  as  "Clifford's  Tower.' * 
The  fortress  was  garrisoned  with  picked  men, 
but  its  castellan,  Robert  Fitz  Richard,  is  only 
known  to  us  through  the  circumstances  of  his 
death  in  the  next  year. 

Other  matters  than  the  fortifications  of  York 
demanded  King  William's  attention  at  this  time. 
Danger  was  threatening  from  the  side  of  Scotland, 
for  the  rebels  had  sought  the  help  of  King  Malcolm 
Canmore,  and  a  great  army  was  gathering  beyond 
the  Tweed.  The  northern  frontier  of  England 
was  as  yet  unprotected  by  the  castles  of  Berwick 
and  Carlisle,  and  on  the  west  the  possessions 
of  the  king  of  Scots  extended  as  far  south  as 
Morecambe  Bay.  Also  the  best  English  authority 
asserts  that  Edgar  the  Etheling  and  his  friends 
had  already  taken  refuge  with  King  Malcolm 
on  their  flight  from  William's  court,  and  the  mar- 
riage of  the  etheling's  sister  to  the  Scottish  king 
was  very  shortly  to  make  the  northern  kingdom 
a  point  (f  appui  for  all  unquiet  nationalists  in 

266         William  the  Conqueror 

England.  There  was  clearly  good  reason  for 
William  to  define  his  position  with  regard  to  the 
king  of  Scots,  and  this  the  more  as  it  would  give 
him  an  opportunity  of  claiming  fealty  as  well  as 
submission  at  a  moment  when  he  was  all-powerful 
in  the  north.  An  ambassador  was  found  in  the 
person  of  Bishop  Ethelwine  of  Durham,  who  had 
revolted  with  the  rest  of  Northumbria,  but  had 
made  his  peace  with  the  Conqueror,  and  conducted 
the  present  business  to  a  successful  issue.  King 
Malcolm  sent  representatives  to  York  in  company 
with  the  bishop  of  Durham,  and  according  to  the 
Norman  account  they  swore  fealty  to  William  in 
the  name  of  their  master.  It  was  no  part  of  the 
Conqueror's  plan  to  engage  in  an  unnecessary 
war  in  Scotland,  and,  all  the  purposes  of  his  north- 
ern journey  being  for  the  present  accomplished, 
he  turned  south  again  by  way  of  Lincoln,  Hunting- 
don, and  Cambridge,  at  each  of  which  places  the 
inevitable  castle  was  raised  and  garrisoned.1 

i  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii.,  185. 

Denier  of  Baldwin  of  Lille 



THE  year  1068  had  closed  tinder  a  specious 
appearance  of  peace,  and  the  only  result 
of  the  revolts  of  Exeter  and  York  had  been  a 
proof  of  the  futility  of  isolated  resistance  to  a 
king  who  could  strike  with  equal  decision  at  the 
west  or  north.  The  following  year  opened  with 
two  north-country  risings  which  formed  an  uncon- 
certed  prelude  to  fifteen  months  of  incessant 
strife,  in  which  the  strength  of  the  Norman  hold 
on  England  was  finally  tested  and  proved.  The 
flight  of  Gospatric  in  the  previous  summer  had 
vacated  the  Bernician  earldom,  and  at  the  begin- 
ning of  1069  the  Conqueror  tried  the  experiment 
of  appointing  a  Noman  baron  to  .the  command 
of  the  border  province.  His  choice  fell  on  one 
Robert  de  Comines,  who  immediately  set  out 
for  the  north  at  the  head  of  a  force  of  five  hun- 
dred knights.  The  news  of  his  appointment  pre- 
ceded him,  and  the  men  of  Northumbria,  who  had 
enjoyed  virtual  independence  for  two  years,  were 
not  minded  to  submit  quietly  to  the  rule  of  a 
foreign  earL  A  league  was  accordingly  formed, 
the  members  of  which  bound  themselves  either 
to  kill  the  stranger  or  to  perish  in  the  attempt. 


268  William  the  Conqueror 

Bishop  Ethelwine  of  Durham  had  evidently 
heard  rumours  of  the  plot,  for  as  the  earl  ap- 
proached Durham  he  was  met  by  the  bishop,  who 
warned  him  of  the  impending  danger.  Robert 
took  no  heed,  and  his  troops  behaved  badly  as 
they  entered  Durham,  killing  certain  of  the 
bishop's  humbler  tenants,  but  meeting  no  armed 
opposition.  The  earl  was  entertained  in  a  house 
belonging  to  the  bishop,  and  his  men  were  quar- 
tered all  over  the  town,  in  open  defiance  of  the 
bishop's  warning.  But  during  the  night  a  large 
body  of  Northumbrians  moved  up  to  the  city, 
and  as  dawn  broke  they  burst  through  the  gates 
and  began  a  deliberate  massacre  of  the  Frenchmen. 
The  surprise  was  complete,  but  the  earl  and  his 
immediate  companions  were  aroused  in  time  to 
enable  them  to  make  a  fight  for  their  lives.  They 
could  expect  no  quarter,  and  their  defence  was 
so  desperate  thait  the  rebels  were  unable  to  break 
into  the  house,  and  at  last  set  it  on  fire,  the  earl 
and  his  men  perishing  in  the  flames.  Of  the  five 
hundred  Normans  in  Durham,  only  one  survivor 
made  his  escape.1 

This  episode  was  quickly  followed  by  the  death 
of  Robert  Pitz  Richard,  the  governor  of  York, 
who  perished  with  a  number  of  his  men  in  an 
obscure  struggle,  which  nevertheless  left  the  cas- 
tle untaken  in  Norman  hands.  Encouraged  by 
these  events,  Edgar  the  Etheling,  Marleswegen, 
Archil,  and  Gospatric  reappeared  upon,  the  scene, 

1  Simeon  of  Durham,  1069. 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel  269 

and  made  a  determined  attack  upon  the  fortress, 
so  that  William  Malet,  who  would  appear  to  have 
become  castellan  on  Robert  Fitz  Richard's  death, 
sent  an  urgent  message  to  the  king,  saying  that 
he  must  surrender  at  once  unless  he  received 
reinforcements.  Upon  receiving  this  appeal, 
the  Conqueror  flew  in  person  to  York,  scattered 
the  rebels  with  heavy  loss,  and  planted  a  second 
castle  within  a  few  hundred  yards  of  the  first, 
but  on  the  opposite  bank  of  the  Ouse.  This 
fortress,  of  which  the  mound,  known  as  the 
Baile  Hill,  still  rests  against  the  city  wall,  was 
committed  to  the  charge  of  no  less  a  person  than 
Earl  William  Fitz  Osbern,  and  the  king  after  eight 
days  returned  to  Winchester  to  keep  his  Easter 
feast  there.  His  departure  was  followed  by  a 
renewal  of  the  English  attack,  now  directed  against 
both  the  castles,  but  William  Fitz  Osbern  and  his 
men  gave  a  good  account  of  themselves  against 
the  insurgents.1 

It  was,  however,  apparent  by  this  time  that  a 
spirit  of  revolt  was  generally  abroad,  and  Queen 
Matilda  was  sent  back  into  Normandy  to  assume 
command  of  the  duchy  once  more.  No  very 
coherent  narrative  of  the  military  events  of  this 
year  can  be  extracted  from  the  confused  tale 
of  Ordericus  Vitalis  or  the  jejune  annals  of  the 

*  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii. ,  x88.  From  His  statement  that  Earl 
William  beat  the  rebels  "in  a  certain  valley,"  it  is  evident 
that  the  military  operations  were  not  confined  to  the  city  of 

270          William  the  Conqueror 

Anglo-Saxon  Chronicle,  but  the  outline  of  the 
history  is  fairly  plain.  We  seem  to  recognise 
three.distinct  areas  of  revolt:  Devon  and  Somerset, 
Shropshire  and  Staffordshire,  and,  most  danger- 
ous of  all,  Yorkshire  and  the  north.  We  have  no 
reason  to  suppose  that  the  English  leaders  had 
any  thought  of  uniting  in  common  resistance  to 
the  Norman  rule;  their  plans  extended  to  nothing 
more  than  the  destruction  of  single  fortresses, 
the  execution  of  isolated  revenge  for  local  injuries. 
On  the  other  hand  the  dispersion  of  the  centres 
of  revolt  incidentally  produced  some  of  the  effects 
of  combination;  the  Normans  were  compelled  to 
divide  their  forces,  and  the  rapidity  with  which 
King  William  dashed  about  the  country  from  point 
to  point  proved  that  he  at  least  thought  the  situ- 
ation sufficiently  precarious. 

Early  in  the  summer  the  three  sons  of  Harold 
repeated  their  piratical  excursion  of  the  previous 
year.  They  landed  on  the  24th  of  June  in  the 
mouth  of  the  Taw  with  sixty-six  ships  and 
raided  over  a  large  part  of  Devonshire,  but  were 
beaten  off  at  last  by  Brian  of  Penthievfle,  and 
vanish  therewith  from  English  history.1  The 
local  forces  were  capable  of  dealing  with  an 
unsupported  raid  of  this  kind,  but  the  case  was 
otherwise  with  the  powerful  armament  which  at 
this  time  was  being  prepared  in  the  fiords  of 
Denmark.  Swegn  Esthrithson  at  last  was  about 
to  take  action,  and  the  news  excited  once  more 

1  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii.,  189. 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    271 

the  unstable  patriotism  of  the  men  of  Northum- 
bria.  The  Danish  army  was  recruited  from  a 
wide  area  to  the  south  of  the  Baltic;  there  were 
numerous  adventurers  from  Poland,  Frisia,  and 
Saxony,  and  we  read  of  a  contingent  of  heathen 
savages  from  Lithuania.  The  fleet  was  reported 
to  consist  of  two  hundred  and  forty  vessels;  a 
number  capable,  if  each  ship  was  fully  laden,  of 
carrying  a  force  considerably  larger  than  any 
army  William  could  put  into  the  field  without 
calling  out  the  native  militia.  The  expedition 
was  under  the  command  of  Harold  and  Cnut, 
the  sons  of  King  Swegn,  and  Asbiorn,  his  brother, 
and  included  many  Danes  of  high  rank,  among 
whom  Christian,  bishop  of  Aarhus,  is  mentioned 
by  name.1 

The  fleet  set  sail  towards  the  end  of  August, 
and. must  have  hugged  the  shores  of  Frisia  and 
Holland,  for  it  first  touched  the  English  coast  at 
Dover.  The  royal  forces  were  strong  enough  to 
prevent  a  landing  both  here  and  at  Sandwich, 
where  the  Danes  repeated  the  attempt,  but  the 
mouth  of  the  Orwell  was  unguarded,  and  a  body 
of  the  invaders  disembarked  at  Ipswich  with  the 
intention  of  plundering  the  neighbourhood.  We 
are,  however,  told  that  the  "country  people," 

'For  the  events  of  1069  Orderic  is  almost  the  sole  author- 
ity, and  his  narrative  is  not  always  easy  to  follow.  On  the 
other  hand  he  is  doubtless  in  great  part  following  the  con- 
temporary William  of  Poitiers,  and  his  tale  is  quite  consist- 
ent with  itself  if  due  allowance  is  made  for  its  geographical 

272          William  the  Conqueror 

by  which  phrase  the  English  peasantry  of  the 
district  are  probably  meant,  came  out  and,  after 
killing  thirty  of  the  raiders,  drove  the  rest  to 
seek  refuge  in  their  ships.    A  similar  descent  on 
Norwich  was  repulsed  by  Ralf  de  Wader,  earl 
of  East  Anglia  and  governor  of  Norwich  castle,  and 
the  Danes  passed  on  towards  the  Humber.   In  the 
meantime,  news  of  these  events  was  brought  to 
King  William,  who,  we  are  told,  was  hunting  at 
the  time  in  the  forest  of  Dean  away  on  the  Welsh 
border;  and  he,  seeing  where  the  key  to  the  situ- 
ation really  lay,  instantly  sent  a  messenger  to 
York  to  warn  the  garrison  and  to  direct  that 
they  should  summon  him  in  person  if  they  were 
hard  pressed  by  the  enemy.     He  received  the 
reassuring  answer  that  they  would  require  no 
assistance  from  him  for  a  year  to  come,  and  he 
accordingly  continued  to  leave  the  defence  of  the 
north  in  the  hands  of  his  subordinates,   while 
the  Danes  were  sailing  along  the  coast  of  Lindsey. 
It  is  an  interesting  question  how  far  the  men 
of  the  English  Danelaw  may  have  been  led  by 
a  remembrance  of  their  Scandinavian  origin  to 
make  common  cause  with  the  army  of  the  king  of 
Denmark  at  this  time.    At  the  beginning  of  the 
century  Swegn  Porkbeard  had  been  welcomed 
on  this  account  by  the  men  of  the  shires  along 
the  lower  Trent,  and  had  fixed  his  headquarters 
at  Gainsborough  in  this  district.    So  Ibng  as  the 
Anglo-Saxon  legal  system  retained  a  semblance 
of  vitality  a  very  definite  barrier  of  customary 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    273 

law  separated  the  Danelaw  from  the  counties  of 
the  eastern  midlands,  and  the  details  of  its  local 
organisation  still  preserved  not  a  few  peculiar 
features,  plainly  referable  to  a  northern  origin. 
On  the  other  hand,  in  the  names  of  the  pre-Con- 
quest owners  of  land  in  this  district  as  recorded 
in  Domesday  Book  the  English  element  distinctly 
preponderates,*  while  the  particularism  of  North- 
umbria  itself  was  perhaps  rather  political  than 
racial.  It  is  probable  that  the  men  of  Lincoln- 
shire would  have  preferred  a  Danish  to  either  a 
Norman  or  an  English  king,  but  they  play  no 
distinctive  part  in  the  incidents  of  this  campaign, 
which  centres  round  the  city  of  York  and  its 
approaches  by  land  and  water. 

While  the  Danish  fleet  still  hung  in  the  Humber, 
it  was  joined  by  the  English  exiles  from  Scotland, 
Edgar  the  Etheling,  Gospatric,  and  Marleswegen, 
with  whom  Waltheof ,  the  earl  of  Huntingdon,  and 
others  of  lesser  fame  now  associated  themselves 
Edgar,  who  had  been  raiding  in  Lincolnshire  in- 
dependently of  his  Danish  friends,  had  narrowly 
escaped  capture  by  the  garrison  of  Lincoln  castle; 
but  he  reached  the  Humber  in  safety  though  with 
only  two  companions,  and  the  combined  force, 
like  that  of  Harold  Hardrada  three  years  before, 
passed  on  up  the  Ouse  and  disembarked  for  a  di- 
rect attack  on  York.  Volunteers  assembled  from 
all  the  neighbouring  country,  and  in  numbers 
at  least  it  was  a  formidable  army  which  on  the 
aistof  September  appeared  before  the  northern 


274          William  the  Conqueror 

capital,  the  English  forming  the  van,  the  Danish 
host  the  rear.  The  Normans  in  York  made  no  at- 
tempt to  hold  the  city  wall,  and  concentrated  their 
defence  on  the  two  fortresses  by  the  Ouse,  setting 
fire  to  the  adjoining  buildings,  so  that  their 
timber  might  not  be  used  to  fill  up  the  castle 
ditches.  The  flames  spread,  the  city  was  gutted, 
and,  what  was  worse  to  the  medieval  mind,  the 
church  of  St.  Peter  was  involved  in  the  ruin.  The 
struggle  which  followed  was  soon  over;  on  the 
very  day  of  the  Danish  arrival,  while  the  city  was 
still  burning,  the  garrison  of  the  castles  made  a 
sally,  were  outnumbered  by  the  enemy  within  the 
.  city  walls. and  destroyed,  after  which  the  capture 
of  the  actual  fortifications  was  an  easy  matter. 
The  castles  themselves  were  only  wooden  struc- 
tures planted  on  mounds  of  earth;  their  defenders 
had  been  hopelessly  weakened  by  the  failure  of 
the  sally,  and  later  tradition  recounted  in  verse 
how  Waltheof ,  Siward's  son,  stood  by  the  gate  and 
smote  down  the  Normans  one  by  one  to  the 
number  of  a  hundred  with  his  axe  as  they  tried  to 
break  away.1  The  castles  once  taken,  the  English 
hatred  of  these  signs  of  bondage  broke  out  with 

»  The  exact  scene  of  Waltheof's  exploit  is  uncertain. 
Orderic  implies  that  the  entire  Norman  garrison  in  York 
perished  in  the  unsuccessful  sally.  Florence  of  Worcester 
states  that  the  castles  were  taken  by  storm.  The  latter 
is  certainly  the  more  probable,  and  agrees  better  with 
the  tradition,  preserved  by  William  of  Malmesbury,  of  the 
slaughter  at  the  gate.  The  gate  in  question,  on  this  reading 
of  the  story,  will  belong  to  one  of  the  castles;  it  cannot  well 
be  taken  to  be  one  of  the  gates  of  the  town . 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    275 

fury;  the  wooden  buildings  were  instantly  broken 
up  and  hurled  to  the  ground,  and  the  luckless 
William  Malet,  with  his  wife  and  children,  a 
prisoner,  was  one  of  the  few  Normans  in  York 
who  survived  the  day. 

On  the  nth  of  September,  before  the  Dan- 
ish army  had  sighted  the  walls  of  York,  Arch- 
bishop Ealdred,  one  of  the  few  Englishmen 
of  high  rank  who  accepted  the  Norman  Con- 
quest as  irreversible,  died,  being  worn  out  by 
extreme  age,  and  grief  at  the  ruin  which  he  fore- 
saw was  about  to  fall  on  the  men  of  his  province. 
The  fall  of  York  was  the  most  serious  check  which 
had  hitherto  crossed  King  William's  plans  in 
Normandy  or  England;  it  might  easily  lead  to  the 
formation  of  a  Danish  principality  beyond  the 
Humber;  it  was  certain  to  give  encouragement  to 
rebellious  movements  in  the  south.  In  his  rage 
at  the  news  the  king  caused  the  fugitives  who  had 
told  the  tale  to  be  horribly  mutilated  as  a  warning 
to  his  captains  against  possible  treachery1  and 
then  set  out  for  the  north.  As  he  drew  towards 
the  Northumbrian  border,  the  Danes  abandoned 
their  new  conquest,  and  made  for  their  ships, 
crossing  the  Humber  in  them,  and  established 
themselves  among  the  marshes  of  the  Isle  of 
Axholme.  This  movement  diverted  the  king's 
march;  he  struck  straight  for  Lindsey  with  a  force 
of  cavalry  and  crushed  sundry  isolated  bodies  of 

i  The  mutilation  is  only  recorded  by  a  late  authority,  the 
Winchester  Annote* 

276          William  the  Conqueror 

the  enemy  which  were  dispersed  among  the  fens. 
The  Danes,  finding  their  position  untenable,  took 
to  their  ships  again  and  crossed  over  to  the  York- 
shire bank,  whither  William  had  no  means  of 
following  them.  He  therefore  left  part  of  his 
troops  under  the  counts  of  Mortain  and  Eu,  to 
protect  Lindsey,  while  he  himself  turned  west- 
wards to  suppress  a  local  rising  which  had  broken 
out  at  Stafford. 

We  know  nothing  as  to  the  persons  who  were 
responsible  for  this  last  revolt,  nor  have  we  any 
clue  as  to  their  objects,  but  it  is  quite  possible 
that  they  were  acting  in  concert  with  the  men 
who  at  this  time  were  laying  siege  to  the  new 
castle  of  Shrewsbury.  William  in  this  year  was 
contending  with  men  of  Celtic  as  well  as  of  Scandi- 
navian race;  for  Bleddyn,  king  of  Gwynedd,  for 
the  third  time  within  three  years,  had  taken  arms 
against  the  Normans  on  the  Welsh  border.  To 
the  men  of  North  Wales,  Edric  the  Wild  brought  a 
contingent  from  Herefordshire,  and  the  citizens 
of  Chester,  which,  it  would  seem,  had  not  as  yet 
been  occupied  by  the  Normans,  joined  in  the 
attack.  The  allies  were  successful  in  burning  the 
town  of  Shrewsbury  and  getting  away  before  a 
Norman  force  arrived  in  relief  of  the  castle,  but 
the  Staffordshire  insurgents  were  less  fortunate. 
We  are  merely  told  that  King  William  "wiped  out 
great  numbers  of  the  rebels  with  an  easy  victory 
at  Stafford,"  but  the  Domesday  survey  -of  the 
country,  in  the  laige  proportion  of  land  which  it 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    277 

returns  as  "waste,"  suggests  that  Staffordshire  at 
this  time  received  at  William's  hand  some  measure 
of  the  doom  which  was  to  fall  upon  Yorkshire 
before  the  year  had  closed. 

In  the  meantime  the  revolt  of  the  south-west 
had  run  its  course.  Here  as  elsewhere  the  plans  of 
the  revolted  English  do  not  seem  to  have  extended 
beyond  the  capture  of  individual  castles;  notably 
the  royal  fortress  which  had  been  built  in  Exeter 
after  the  the  siege  of  the  previous  year,  and 
the  private  stronghold  of  Count  Robert  of  Mor- 
tain  at  Montacute  in  Somerset.  The  command 
against  the  besiegers  of  Montacute  was  assumed 
by  Bishop  Geoffrey  of  Coutances,  who  speedily 
scattered  the  insurgents  with  an  army  drawn 
from  London,  Winchester,  and  Salisbury,  the  chief 
towns  on  the  main  road  from  the  east  to  Devon 
and  Somerset.  The  situation  at  Exeter  was 
complicated  by  the  attitude  of  the  citizens  them- 
selves, who  must  have  been  anxious  not  to  forfeit 
the  privileges  which  they  had  obtained  from 
Kong  William  by  the  treaty  which  had  so  recently 
concluded  their  own  revolt.  Accordingly,  when 
the  new  castle  was  beset  by  a  host  of  Devonians 
and  Cornishmen,  the  townspeople  took  the  Norman 
side ;  and  the  garrison  on  making  a  sally  threw 
the  rebels  into  a  state  of  confusion  which  was  com- 
pleted by  the  arrival  of  Brian  of  Penthievre,  who 
was  advancing  to  the  relief  of  the  castle  men. 

Now  that  no  further  danger  was  to  be  appre- 
hended, from  the  lands  between  Trent  and  Severn 

278          William  the  Conqueror 

King  William's  hands  were  free  to  deal  with 
the  Northumbrian  difficulty.  His  lieutenants  in 
Lindsey  had  contrived  to  surprise  a  number  of  the 
Danes  as  they  were  participating  in  the  village 
feasts  with  which  the  men  of  that  district  were 
anticipating  the  customary  orgies  of  .midwinter 
and  to  which  they  had  apparently  invited  their 
Danish  friends.  This,  however,  was  a  trivial 
matter;  there  was  a  probability  that  the  Danes 
would  return  to  take  possession  of  York,  and  when 
the  Conqueror  next  appears  after  the  battle  of 
Stafford,  he  is  found  at  Nottingham  on  his  way 
to  the  northern  capital.  For  fifty  miles  north  of 
Nottingham  he  followed  the  route  by  which  he 
had  advanced  on  to  York  in  the  previous  year, 
but  he  received  a  sudden  check  at  the  point  where 
the  road  in  question  crosses  the  Aire  near  to  the 
modern  town  of  Pontefract.  The  bridge  was 
broken,  and  the  river,  swollen  most  probably 
by  the  winter's  rains,  could  neither  be  forded 
nor  crossed  in  boats,  while  the  enemy  lined  the 
opposite  bank  in  force.  On  this  last  account  it 
was  impossible  to  rebuild  the  bridge,  and  for  three 
weeks  the  army  was  kept  inactive  by  this  tin- 
expected  obstacle.  At  last  a  knight  called  Lisois 
de  Monasteriis,  after  examining  the  river  in  search 
of  a  ford  for  miles  above  and  below  the  camp  by 
the  broken  bridge,  discovered  a  practicable  crossing 
somewhere  among  the  hills  to  the  west  of  Leeds, 
and  forced  a  passage  with  sixty  horsemen  in 
despite  of  the  efforts  of  the  enemy  on  the  left 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    279 

bank.  Having  demonstrated  the  possibility  of  a 
crossing  at  this  point  Lisois  returned  to  Ponte- 
fract;  and  tinder  his  guidance  the  whole  army 
passed  the  Aire,  and  then  wheeled  round  towards 
York  through  the  difficult  country  which  borders 
the  great  plain  of  the  Ouse.  As  the  army  drew 
near  to  York,  news  came  that  the  Danes  had 
evacuated  the  city,  so  the  king  divided  his  force, 
sending  one  detachment  to  occupy  and  repair 
the  ruined  castles,  and  another  to  the  Humber  to 
keep  the  Danes  in  check.  But  he  himself  had 
other  work  to  do,  and  did  not  enter  York  at  this 

It  would  seem  that  the  Norman  passage  of  the 
Aire,  hazardous  as  it  had  been,  had  really  demor- 
alised the  Northumbrian  insurgents  and  their 
Danish  allies.  The  latter,  as  we  have  seen,  fell 
back  on  the  Humber  at  once  without  striking  a 
blow;  the  mass  of  the  native  English  under  arms 
would  seem  to  have  retired  simultaneously  among 
the  hills  of  western  Yorkshire,  for  the  Conqueror 
now  turned  to  their  pursuit  and  to  the  definite 
reduction  of  the  inhospitable  land.  With  grim 
determination  he  worked  his  way  along  the  wooded 
valleys  which  intersect  the  great  mountain  chain 
of  northern  England,  and  deliberately  harried 
that  region  so  that  no  human  being  might  find  the 
means  of  subsistence  there.  Resistance  isolated 
and  ineffectual  he  must  have  met;  but  now  for 
once  submission  brought  no  favour,  and  those 
who  perished  in  the  nameless  struggles  in  which 

280          William  the  Conqueror 

despairing  men  flung  themselves  hopelessly  upon 
the  line  of  his  inexorable  march,  underwent  a 
shorter  agony  than  remained  for  those  who  sur- 
vived to  see  their  homes,  with  all  their  substance, 
smouldering  in  the  track  of  the  destroying  army. 
But  the  spirit  was  soon  beaten  out  of  the  ruined 
men,  and  without  fearing  surprise  or  ambush 
William  could  divide  his  army  still  further  and 
quicken  the  dismal  process  of  destruction.  Soon 
his  soldiers  were  scattered  in  camps  over  an  area 
of  a  hundred  miles,  and  the  north  and  east  of 
Yorkshire  underwent  the  fate  which  the  Con- 
queror in  person  had  inflicted  on  the  West  Riding. 
Before  Christmas  it  is  probable  that  the  whole 
land  from  the  North  Sea  to  Morecambe  Bay  had 
become  with  the  rarest  exceptions  a  deserted 

The  harrying  of  Yorkshire  is  one  of  the  few 
events  of  the  kind  in  regard  to  which  the  custom- 
ary rhetoric  of  the  medieval  chronicler  is  only 
substantiated  by  documentary  evidence.  From 
the  narratives  of  Ordericus  Vitalis  and  Simeon  of 
Durham  alone,  we  should  gain  a  fair  impression 
of  the  ghastly  reality  of  the  great  devastation, 
but  a  few  columns  of  the  Domesday  survey  of 
Yorkshire,  where  the  attempt  is  made  to  estimate 
the  result  of  the  havoc  for  the  purposes  of  the 
royal  treasury,  are  infinitely  the  more  suggestive. 
On  page  after  page,  with  deadly  iteration,  manor 
after  manor  is  reported  "  waste,"  and  even  in 
the  places  where  agricultural  life  had  been  re- 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    281 

instituted,  and  the  burned  villages  rebuilt,  the 
men  who  inhabited  them  formed  but  pitiful 
little  groups  in  the  midst  of  the  surrounding 
ruin.  As  to  the  fate  of  the  individuals  who 
had  fled  before  King  William's  army,  in  the  fatal 
December,  no  certain  tale  can  be  told.  Many  sold 
themselves  into  slavery  in  return  for  food,  many 
tried  to  make  their  way  southward  into  the  more 
prosperous  midland  shires;  the  local  history  of 
Evesham  Abbey  relates  how  crowds  of  fugitives 
from  the  districts  visited  by  the  Conqueror  in  this 
campaign  thronged  the  streets  of  the  little  town, 
and  how  each  day  five  of  six  of  them,  worn 
out  by  hunger  and  weariness,  died,  and  received 
burial  by  the  prior  of  the  monastery.  Many  no 
doubt  tried  to  keep  themselves  alive  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood of  their  old  homes  until  the  rigour  of 
the  winter  had  passed  away;  but  fifty  years  later 
it  was  well  remembered  in  the  north  how  the 
bodies  of  those  who  were  now  overtaken  by 
famine  lay  rotting  by  the  roadsides.  Even  so  late 
as  Stephen's  time,  a  southern  writer,  William 
of  Malmesbury,  tells  us  how  the  fertile  lands  of 
the  north  still  bore  abundant  traces  of  what  had 
passed  during  the  winter  of  1069. 

The  festival  of  Christmas  caused  a  short  break 
in  the  grim  progress  of  King  William.  His  work 
was  not  by  any  means  completed  in  the  north; 
the  Danes  were  still  in  the  Humber;  Chester 
retrained  in  virtual  independence.  And  so  the 
regalia  and  royal  plate  were  brought  from  the 

282          William  the  Conqueror 

treasury  at  Winchester,  and  the  Christmas  feast 
was  held  at  York  with  so  much  of  the  traditional 
splendour  as  the  place  and  occasion  permitted. 
The  ceremony  over,  the  campaign  was  resumed, 
and  in  the  New  Year  the  Conqueror  set  out  to  hunt 
down  a  body  of  Englishmen  who  seem  to  have 
entrenched  themselves  among  the  marshes  which 
then  lay  between  the  Cleveland  hills  and  the 
estuary  of  the  Tees.1  The  rebels,  however,  de- 
camped by  night  on  hearing  of  the  king's  ad- 
vance, and  William  spent  fifteen  days  by  the 
Tees,  during  which  time  Earl  Waltheof  made 
his  submission  in  person  and  Gospatric  sent  en- 
voys who  swore  fealty  on  his  behalf.  Gospatric 
was  therefore  restored  to  his  earldom,  and  William 
returned  to  York,  keeping  to  the  difficult  country 
of  the  East  Riding  in  preference  to  the  Roman 
road  which  led  southward  from  the  Tees  near 
Darlington  down  the  plain  of  the  Ouse.2  It  is 
probable  that  William  chose  this  route  with  the 
object  of  hunting  down  any  scattered  bands  of 
outlawed  Englishmen  which  might  have  hung 
together  thus  far  in  this  inaccessible  region;  but 
his  force  suffered  severely  through  the  cold, 
many  of  the  horses  died,  and  on  one  occasion  he 

1  Ordericus*  narrative  at  this  point  is  not  very  dear,  but 
this  is  probably  his  meaning. 

a  By  Ordericus  William  is  made  to  return  to  York  through 
Hexham  ("HangustaldamrevertabaturaTesca").  Thisbeing 
impossible  it  is  generally  assumed  that  Helmsley  (Haqailac 
in  D.  B.)  should  be  read  for  Hexham,  in  which  case  William 
would  probably  cross  the  Cleveland  hills  by  way  of  Bilsdale. 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    283 

himself  lost  his  way  and  became  separated  from 
his  army  with  only  six  companions  for  an  entire 
night.  York,  however,  was  reached  in  safety 
at  last,  and  the  reduction  of  Northumbria  was 

It  was  now  possible  to  enter  upon  the  final 
stage  of  the  campaign,  and,  after  making  the 
arrangements  necessary  for  the  safety  of  York, 
William  set  out  on  the  last  and  most  formidable 
of  the  many  marches  of  this  memorable  winter, 
towards  the  one  important  town  in  England 
which  had  never  submitted  to  his  rule.  Chester 
still  held  out  in  English  hands,  and  apart  from  its 
strategical  importance  the  citizens  of  the  great 
port  had  definitely  attracted  King  William's  at- 
tention by  the  part  which  they  had  played  in 
the  recent  siege  of  Shrewsbury.  His  hold  on  the 
north  would  never  be  secure  until  he  had  reduced 
the  town  where  Irish  Vikings  and  Welsh  moun- 
taineers might  at  any  time  collect  their  forces 
for  an  attack  upon  the  settled  midlands.  On  the 
other  hand,  the  geographical  difficulties  in  the 
way  of  a  direct  march  from  York  to  Chester  were 
enormous.  From  the  edge  of  the  plain  of  York  to 
the  Mersey  Valley,  the  altitude  of  the  ground 
never  descends  to  a  point  below  500  feet  above 
sea  level;  and,  since  the  Roman  highway  from 
York  to  Manchester  had  fallen  into  ruin,  no 
roads  crossed  this  wild  country  except  such 
tracks  as  served  for  communication  between 
village  and  village.  But  a  more  serious  cause  of 

284         William  the  Conqueror 

danger  lay  in  the  fact  that  the  army  itself  now 
began  to  show  ominous  symptoms  which  might 
easily  develop  into  actual  mutiny.  The  strain  of 
the  protracted  campaign  was  telling  upon  the 
men;  and  the  mercenary  portion  of  the  army, 
represented  by  the  soldiers  from  Anjou,  Brittany, 
and  Maine,  began  to  clamour  for  their  discharge, 
complaining  that  these  incessant  inarches  were 
more  intolerable  than  even  the  irksome  duty  of 
castle  guard.  The  Conqueror  in  reply  merely 
declared  that  he  had  no  use  for  the  cowards  who 
wished  to  desert  him,1  and,  trusting  himself  to 
the  loyalty  of  his  own  subjects  in  the  army,  he 
plunged  straightway  into  the  hills  which  separate 
the  modern  counties  of  Yorkshire  and  Lancashire. 
Part  at  least  of  the  route  now  followed  at  the 
dose  of  January  must  have  lain  through  districts 
which  had  been  swept  bare  of  all  provisions  in  the 
great  harrying  of  December;  and  the  army  was  at 
times  reduced  to  feed  on  the  horses  which  had 
perished  in  the  swamps,  that  continually  inter- 
cepted the  line  of  advance.  The  storms  of  rain 
and  hail  which  fell  at  this  time  were  considered 
worthy  of  mention  in  the  earliest  account  of  the 
march  which  we  possess,  and  we  can  see  that 
nothing  but  the  example  of  King  William's  own 
courage  and  endurance  held  the  army  together 
and  brought  it  down  in  safety  into  the  Cheshire 
plain.  Chester  would  appear  to  have  surrendered 

1 "  Desertores,  vero,  velut  inertes,  pavidosque  et  invalidos, 
si  discedant,  parvi  pendit." 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    285 

without  daring  to  stand  a  siege,  and  with  its 
submission,  guaranteed  as  usual  by  the  founda- 
tion of  a  castle,1  the  Conqueror's  work  was  done 
at  last  in  the  north.  From  Chester  he  moved  to 
Stafford,  where  another  castle  was  raised  and 
garrisoned,  and  then  marched  directly  across 
England  to  Salisbury,  at  which  place  the  army  was 
disbanded,  with  the  exception  of  the  men  who 
had  protested  against  the  present  expedition  and 
were  now  kept  under  arms  for  forty  days  longer 
as  a  mark  of  the  king's  disfavour. 

In  the  meantime,  by  a  skilful  piece  of  diplomacy, 
William  had  been  insuring  himself  against  active 
hostility  on  the  part  of  the  Danish  fleet.  Earl 
Asbiorn  and  his  associates  had  taken  but  little 
gain  as  yet  from  their  English  adventure;  and 
the  earl  proved  very  amenable  when  a  secret 
embassy  came  to  him  from  the  king,  promising 
him  a  large  sum  of  money  and  the  right  of  provi- 
sioning his  men  at  the  expense  of  the  dwellers 
along  the  coast  for  the  remainder  of  the  winter, 
on  the  sole  condition  that  he  should  keep  the 
peace  towards  the  royal  troops  thenceforward 
until  his  departure.  The  earl,  thus  made  secure 
of  some  personal  profit,  agreed  to  the  terms,  and 
until  the  spring  was  far  advanced,  the  Danish 
ships  still  hung  in  the  English  waters. 

'  Chester  castle  was  planted  within  arrow  shot  of  the 
landing  stage  on  the  right  bank  of  the  Dee,  and  also  com- 
manded the  bridge  which  carried  the  road  from  the  Cheshire 
plain  to  the  North  Wales  coast, 

286         William  the  Conqueror 

The  harrying  of  Northunibria,  the  most  salient 
event  of  these  twelve  months  of  ceaseless  activity, 
was  a  measure  which  it  would  be  impossible  to 
justify  and  impertinent  to  excuse.  It  was  the 
logical  result  of  the  opposition  of  an  irreconcil- 
able people  to  an  inflexible  conqueror.  After  the 
battle  of  Hastings  had  shattered  the  specious 
unity  of  the  old  English  state,  each  of  its  com- 
ponent parts  might  still  have  secured  peace  by 
full  submission,  or  honour  by  consistent  and 
coherent  resistance;  the  men  of  Northumbria 
took  the  one  course  which  was  certain  to  invite 
disaster,  nor,  terrible  as  was  the  resultant  suffer- 
ing, can  we  say  that  vengeance  was  undeserved. 
War  in  the  eleventh  century  was  at  best  a  cruel 
business,  but  we  cannot  fairly  accuse  the  Con- 
queror of  deliberately  aggravating  its  horrors 
without  the  impulse  of  what  he  must  have  re- 
garded as  necessity.  He  had  to  deal  with  a 
people  whom  he  could  not  trust,  who  had  sworn 
submission  and  had  broken  their  oaths,  and  the 
means  at  his  disposal  were  few.  He  could  not 
deport  the  population  of  Northumbria  as  Crom- 
well was  to  deport  the  native  Irish  under  not 
dissimilar  circumstances;  his  Normals  were  too 
few  as  yet  to  garrison  effectively  all  the  wild  land 
between  the  Humber  and  the  Scottish  border. 
The  one  course  which  remained  to  the  Conqueror 
was  for  him  to  place  the  rebels  beyond  the  possi- 
bility of  revolting  again,  and  he  followed  this 
course  with  terrible  success.  And  it  was  on  this 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    287 

account — that  Northumbria  was  wasted,  not  in 
the  heat  of  wars,  but  deliberately,  at  the  bidding 
of  political  necessity — that  the  act  seemed  most 
dreadful  to  the  chroniclers  who  have  described  it. 
Men  were  only  too  well  accustomed  to  the  sight  of 
ruined  villages,  of  starving  women  and  children; 
but  these  things  seemed  less  terrible  as  the  work 
of  Scotch  and  Danish  freebooters  than  as  the 
conscious  intention  of  the  crowned  king  of  the 
land.  Nor  must  we  forget  that  we  do  not  know 
how  far  Kong  William  was  really  sinning  against 
the  current  military  practice  of  his  time.  The 
monastic  chroniclers,  whose  opinion  of  the  case 
commends  itself  to  us  in  virtue  of  its  humanity, 
were  men  brought  by  the  fact  of  their  vocation  to 
a  clearer  sense  of  the  value  of  the  individual  life 
than  that  possessed  by  the  lay  world  around  them. 
We  know  what  Ordericus  Vitalis  thought  of  the 
great  harrying,  perhaps  even  what  William  of 
Poitiers,  the  Conqueror's  own  chaplain,  thought 
of  it,  but  we  do  not  know  how  it  appeared  to 
William  Fitz  Osbern  or  Roger  de  Montgomery. 

According  to  his  approved  custom,  the  Con- 
queror kept  the  Easter  following  these  events 
at  Westminster,  and  the  feast  was  attended  by 
three  papal  legates  of  high  rank  whose  presence 
marks  the  beginning  of  the  ecclesiastical  reforma- 
tion which  we  shall  have  to  consider  in  its  place 
as  the  counterpart  of  the  legal  and  administra- 
tive changes  produced  by  the  Norman  Conquest. 
In  the  meantime,  however,  the  broken  national 

288          William  the  Conqueror 

party  was  gathering  its  forces  for  a  last  stand, 
and  the  focal  point  of  the  English  resistance 
shifts  to  the  extreme  east  of  the  land. 

At  each  stage  in  the  Norman  Conquest  there  is 
always  one  particular  district  round  which  the 
main  interest  centres  for  the  time,  the  operations 
of  war  elsewhere  being  of  subsidiary  importance. 
It  was  the  men  of  Kent  and  Sussex  who  bore  the 
brunt  of  the  first  shock  of  the  invasion;  it  was 
the  men  of  the  north  who  held  the  field  in  1069, 
and  now,  in  the  last  period  of  English  resistance, 
our  attention  is  concentrated  on  the  rectangular 
tract  of  land  which  lies  between  Welland,  Ermine 
Street,  Ouse,  and  Wash.  Even  at  the  present  day, 
after  eight  centuries  of  drainage,  it  is  not  difficult 
to  reconstruct  the  geographical  features  which 
in  1070  made  the  Fenland  the  most  inaccessible 
part  of  England  south  of  the  Humber.  Except 
for  a  narrow  tract  north  of  Huntingdon  and  St. 
Ives,  no  part  of  this  district  rises  to  one  hundred 
feet  above  sea-level,  and  in  great  part  it  was  still 
covered  with  the  swamps  and  meres  of  stagnant 
water  which  gave  to  the  eastern  half  of  this 
region  the  name  of  the  Isle  of  Ely.  In  so  far  as 
cultivation  had  already  extended  into  this  inhos- 
pitable quarter,  it  may  fairly  be  set  down  to  the 
credit  of  the  five  great  abbeys  of  Peterborough, 
Thorney,  Crowland,  Ramsey,  and  Ely,  which  dom- 
inated the  fens  and  round  which  the  events  of 
the  campaign  of  1070  arrange  themselves. 

Abbot  Brand  of  Peterborough,  whose  recogni- 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    289 

tion  of  Edgar  the  Etheling  as  king  had  so  deeply 
moved  the  Conqueror's  wrath  at  the  time  of  his 
coronation,  had  died  on  November  27,  1069.* 
At  this  moment  Kong  William  was  in  the  thick  of 
his  Northumbrian  difficulties,  and  it  does  not 
appear  that  any  appointment  to  Peterborough 
was  made  until  the  quieter  times  of  the  following 
spring.  In  or  before  May,  however,  the  abbey 
was  given  to  a  man  whose  selection  for  the  post 
proves  that  the  king  had  received  warning  of  the 
coming  disquiet  in  the  east.  Thorold  of  Fecamp, 
abbot  of  Malmesbury,  had  probably  made  himself 
useful  in  north  Wiltshire  while  William  was  en- 
gaged beyond  the  Humber,  for  the  reputation 
for  militant  severity  which  he  had  created  in  the 
south  was  the  reason  for  his  translation  to  a  post 
of  danger  in  the  Fenland.  ' '  By  God's  splendour, " 
said  King  William,  "if  he  is  more  of  a  knight  than 
an  abbot  I  will  find  hi™  a  man  who  will  meet  all 
his  attacks,  where  he  can  prove  his  valour  and 
his  knighthood  and  practise  the  art  of  war."2 
The  *r»an  in  question  was  no  other  than  the  famous 
Hereward,  and  Thorold  was  not  long  before  he 
saw  traces  of  his  handiwork. 

The  amount  of  authentic  fact  which  we  know 
about  Hereward  is  in  very  small  proportion  to 
the  great  mass  of  legend  which  has  gathered 
round  his  name.  His  parentage  is  quite  unknown, 
but  there  are  several  incidental  entries  in  Domes- 

i  Peterborough  Chronicle,  1069. 
a  William  of  Malmesbuiy,  Gesta  Pontifcum,  {  420. 

290         William  the  Conqueror 

day  which  connect  him  with  the  western  edge  of 
the  Fenland  and  which  all  occur  in  the  Lincolnshire 
portion  of  the  survey.  Prom  these  entries  we  learn 
that  Hereward  had  been  a  tenant  of  two  of  the 
great  Fenland  abbeys,  namely  Crowland  and 
Peterborough,  and  we  also  gather  that  the  former 
house  had  found  him  an  unsatisfactory  person 
with  whom  to  have  dealings.  The  jurors  of 
Aveland  Wapentake  in  Lincolnshire  told  the 
Domesday  commissioners  that  Abbot  Ulfketil  of 
Crowland  had  let  the  abbey's  estate  in  the  vill 
of  Rippingale  to  Hereward  on  terms  to  be  ar- 
ranged mutually  year  by  year,  but  they  add  that 
the  abbot  took  possession  of  the  land  again  before 
Hereward  fled  from  the  country  because  he  did 
not  keep  to  his  agreement.1  On  the  other  hand, 
Hereward  was  seemingly  still  in  the  possession 
of  the  lands  which  he  held  of  Peterborough  abbey 
at  the  moment  when  his  name  first  appears  in 
the  national  history. 

At  some  time  in  the  course  of  May,  but  before 
Abbot  Thorold  had  taken  possession  of  his  abbey, 
the  Danish  fleet,  of  which  we  have  heard  nothing 
since  the  previous  year,  sailed  up  the  Ouse  to 
Ely.  Thus  far  its  leaders  would  seem  to  have 
kept  the  agreement  which  they  had  made  with 
King  William  after  his  capture  of  York,  and  the 
fact  that  they  now  appear  as  taking  the  offensive 
once  more  is  probably  explained  by  a  statement 
in  the  Anglo-Saxon  Chronicle  that  Kong  Swegn 

1  Domesday  Book,  i.,  346. 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    291 

of  Denmark  had  come  in  person  to  the  Humber.1 
The  men  of  the  Fenland  were  clearly  expecting  a 
Danish  reconquest  of  England,  and  on  the  appear- 
ance of  Earl  Asbiorn  at  Ely  they  joined  him  in 
great  numbers.  Among  them,  and  probably  at 
their  head,  was  Hereward,  and  the  first  fruit  of 
the  alliance  was  a  successful  raid  on  the  wealthy 
and  unprotected  monastery  of  Peterborough. 
The  monks  received  just  sufficient  warning  of  ap- 
proaching danger  to  enable  them  to  send  an 
urgent  message  to  Abbot  Thorold,  asking  for  help, 
and  also  to  hide  some  of  the  more  precious  treas- 
ures of  their  house,  and  then  at  mid-day  Hereward 
and  his  gang  were  on  them.  They  came  by  boat, 
for  even  at  this  date  there  were  canals  which 
connected  the  Ouse  at  Ely  with  the  Nene  at 
Peterborough,  and  began  to  clamour  for  admis- 
sion to  the  abbey.2  But  the  monks  had  closed 
their  doors  and  defended  them  stoutly,  so  that 
Hereward  was  driven  to  burn  the  houses  which 
clustered  round  the  abbey  gate  in  order  to  force 

» Peterborough  Chronicle,  1070. 

2  The  passages  which  follow  are  founded  on  the  narrative 
of  Hugh  "Candidus,"  a  monk  of  Peterborough,  who  in  the 
reign  of  Henry  II.  wrote  an  account  of  the  possessions  of  the 
abbey,  and  inserts  a  long  passage  descriptive  of  the  events  of 
1070.  The  beginning  of  his  narrative  agrees  closely  with  the 
contemporary  account  in  the  Peterborough  Chronicle,  but  his 
tale  of  the  doings  of  the  Danes  in  Ely  after  the  sack  of 
Peterborough  is  independent,  and  bears  every  mark  of  truth. 
Wherever  it  is  possible  to  test  Hugh's  work,  in  regard  to 
other  matters,  its  accuracy  is  confirmed.  See  Feudal  England, 
163,  V.C.H.  Notts,  I.,  222.  Hugh's  Chronicle  has-not  been 
aprinted  since  its  edition  by  Sparke  in  the  seventeenth  century. 

292         William  the  Conqueror 

an  entrance.  Incidentally  the  whole  of  Peter- 
borough was  burned  down,  with  the  exception  of 
the  church  and  a  single  house,  but  the  outlaws 
had  got  inside  the  monastery.  The  monks  begged 
them  to  do  no  harm,  but,  without  heeding,  they 
burst  into  the  church,  seized  all  the  movable 
articles  of  value  on  which  they  could  lay  their 
hands,  and  tried  to  tear  down  the  great  rood  cross. 
To  the  clamours  of  the  monks  around  them  they 
shouted  that  they  did  it  all  for  the  good  of  the 
church,  and  as  Hereward  was  a  tenant  of  the 
abbey  the  monks  believed  him.  Indeed,  Here- 
ward  himself  in  after  years  declared  that  he  had 
been  guided  in  this  matter  by  the  best  intentions, 
for  he  believed  that  the  Danes  would  beat  King 
William  and  he  thought  that  it  would  be  better 
that  the  treasures  of  the  church  should  remain 
in  the  hands  of  his  friends  for  a  little  while,  than 
that  they  should  fall  for  ever  into  the  possession 
of  the  Frenchmen. 

So  the  monks  were  scattered  and  the  wealth 
of  the  Golden  Borough  was  carried  off  to  Ely  and 
handed  over  to  the  Danes,  who  do  not  seem  to 
have  shared  Hereward's  sentiments  with  regard  to 
its  ultimate  destination.  Among  the  captives 
who  were  carried  off  from  Peterborough  was 
Ethelwold,  the  prior,  who,  in  hope  of  better 
days,  devoted  himself  secretly  to  the  recovery 
of  the  relics  contained  in  the  jewelled  -shrines 
which  formed  the  most  valuable  part  of  the 
plunder  that  had  just  been  taken.  With  this 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    293 

object  in  view,  he  deliberately  set  himself  to  win 
the  favour  of  the  despoilers  of  his  home,  and 
succeeded  so  well,  that  the  Danes  committed 
their  treasure  to  his  custody,  and  promised  him  a 
bishopric  in  Denmark  if  he  chose  to  return  with 
them.  Being  a  discreet  man,  he  pretended  to 
comply  with  their  wishes,  and  in  the  meantime 
possessed  himself  of  the  tools  which  were  neces- 
sary for  the  abstraction  of  the  relics.  And  on  a 
certain  day,  while  the  Danes  were  holding  a  great 
feast,  to  celebrate  the  winning  of  so  great  a  treas- 
ure at  so  small  a  cost,  Ethelwold  took  his  tools 
and  set  to  work,  beginning  his  operations  on  the 
reliquary  which  he  knew  to  contain  the  arm  of 
St.  Oswald.  To  prevent  interruption  he  placed 
two  servants  on  guard,  one  in  the  house  where 
the  Danes  were  feasting,  and  the  other  midway 
between  the  latter  place  and  the  scene  of  his  own 
labours.  The  task  progressed  without  greater 
difficulty  than  was  to  be  expected,  although  one 
of  the  chests  was  so  tightly  clamped  with  iron 
that  Ethelwold  would  have  abandoned  it  had 
he  not  trusted  in  God  and  St.  Oswald.  At  last 
the  relics  were  all  secured  and  hidden  temporarily 
in  the  straw  of  the  prior's  bed,  he  being  careful 
to  replace  the  gold  and  silver  fittings  of  the 
shrines  as  they  were  before.  But  at  the  critical 
moment  the  Danes  broke  up  to  go  to  vespers  and 
Ethelwold  was  in  imminent  danger  of  being  taken, 
in  which  event  it  is  probable  that  his  pious  zeal 
would  have  been  rewarded  with  the  crown  of 

594         William  the  Conqueror 

irartyrdom.  But,  without  leaving  his  room, 
the  prior,  who  was  covered  with  sweat  and  very 
red  from  his  labour  in  the  heat  of  a  June  afternoon, 
washed  his  face  in  cold  water  and  went  out  to  his 
captors  as  if  nothing  had  happened,  and  they, 
who  we  are  told  reverenced  him  as  a  father, 
flocked  round  him  but  asked  no  inconvenient 
questions.  And  on  the  following  day  he  sent  his 
two  servants  to  Hereward — because  his  comrades 
were  infesting  all  the  water-ways — under  the  pre- 
tence that  they  wished  to  fetch  something  from 
Peterborough,  but  in  reality  they  went  to  the 
nearer  monastery  of  Ramsey  and  gave  the  relics 
into  the  charge  of  the  abbot  of  that  place. 

At  this  point  the  adventures  of  Prior  Ethel- 
wold  touch  the  current  of  the  general  history. 
King  William,  in  order,  presumably,  to  divide  the 
insurgent  Englishmen  from  their  Danish  allies, 
made  a  treaty  with  Swegn  of  Denmark,  by  which 
his  subjects  were  to  be  allowed  to  sail  for  their 
fatherland  without  hindrance  and  in  possession 
of  all  the  spoil  they  had  gained  in  the  course  of 
the  past  months.  They  took  advantage  of  the 
offer,  but  gained  little  by  it  in  the  event,  for  a 
great  stonn  arose  which  scattered  their  ships, 
and  the  last  we  hear  of  the  treasures  of  Peter- 
borough is  their  destruction,  in  a  nameless  Danish 
town,  in  a  great  fire  which  arose  through  the 
drunkenness  of  their  guardians.  In  the  meantime, 
Ethelwold,  his  troubles  over,  collected  his  fellow- 
monks  and  came  back  to  Peterborough,  where 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    295 

they  found  Abbot  Thorold,  and  restored  the  serv- 
ices which  had  been  suspended  during  the  recent 
disturbances.    One  unexpected  difficulty  indeed 
manifested  itself:  the  Ramsey  people  refused  to 
give  up  the  relics  which  had  been  entrusted  to 
their  care  in  the  moment  of  peril.    But  the  abbot 
of  Ramsey  was  soon  brought  into  a  better  mind; 
the  sacristan  of  the  monastery  received  a  super- 
natural intimation  that  his  house  was  acting 
unjustly,  and  Thorold  of  Peterborough  threatened 
to  burn  Ramsey  abbey  to  the  ground  unless  the 
relics  were  given  back.    And  so  the  heroic  efforts 
of  Ethelwold  were  not  frustrated  of  their  purpose. 
So  quickly  had  events  moved  that  only  one  week 
had  elapsed  between  the  coming  of  Hereward 
to  Peterborough  and  the  departure  of  the  Danish 
fleet.    But  an  entire  year  had  yet  to  pass  before 
the  Isle  of  Ely  was  finally  cleared  of  its  rebel 
garrison.    It  does  not  seem  that  the  withdrawal 
of  the  Danes  made  any  difference  to  the  occupa- 
tion of  Ely  by  the  English,  and  during  the  winter 
of  1070  the  Isle  became  a  gathering  point  for  the 
last   adherents   of  the   broken   national   party. 
Very  few  of  them  were  left  now.     Edgar,  their 
nominal  head,  was  living  in  peace  with  King 
Malcolm  of  Scotland;  Waltheof,  the  last  repre- 
sentative of  the  Danish  earls  of  Northumbria, 
was  at  this  moment  in  enjoyment  of  an  earldom 
in  the  midlands  which  there  is  every  reason  to 
believe  included  the  Isle  of  Ely  itself.    On  the 
other  hand,  Edwin  and  Morcar  now  finally  took 

William  the  Conqueror 

their  departure  from  William's  court,  and  raised 
the  last  of  their  futile  protests  against  the  Nor- 
man rule. 

Hitherto  inseparable,  on  this  occasion  the 
brother  earls  took  different  courses,  and  the 
result  was  disastrous  to  both  of  them.  Morcar 
joined  the  outlaws  in  Ely ;  Edwin  struck  out  for  the 
Scotch  kingdom,  and  from  our  meagre  informa- 
tion about  his  last  months  it  would  seem  that  he 
had  in  view  some  great  scheme  of  reviving  once 
more  the  old  friendship  between  his  house  and  the 
Welsh  princes  and  of  supporting  the  combination 
with  Scotch  aid.  But  fate  overtook  him  before 
he  had  time  to  give  another  exhibition  of  his 
political  worthlessness,  and  the  circumstances  of 
his  end  were  tragic  and  mysterious.  Three 
brothers,  who  were  on  terms  of  intimacy  with 
him  and  were  attending  him  in  his  wanderings, 
betrayed  him  to  the  Normans,  and  in  attempting 
to  escape,  his  retreat  was  blocked  by  a  river 
swollen  at  the  moment  by  a  high  tide.  On  its 
bank  the  last  earl  of  Mercia  turned  at  bay,  and 
with  twenty  horsemen  at  his  side  made  a  des- 
perate defence  until  the  whole  band  was  cut  down ; 
Edwin  himself,  it  would  appear,  falling  by  the 
hands  of  the  three  traitors  of  his  household.  His 
head  was  cut  off  and  the  same  three  brothers 
brought  it  to  King  William  in  the  expectancy  of  a 
great  reward.  But  the  Conqueror  on  the  spot 
outlawed  them  for  their  treason  to  their  lord, 
and  shed  tears  of  grief  over  Edwin's  head;  for  the 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    297 

handsome,  fickle  young  earl,  with  all  his  faults, 
had  really  won  the  love  of  the  grim  sovereign 
from  whom  he  had  thrice  revolted.1 

Edwin  fell  through  treachery,  but  he  met  his 
death  in  the  sight  of  the  sun;  another  fate  re- 
mained for  his  brother  and  for  those  of  his  asso- 
ciates whose  end  is  known  to  us.  The  cause  of 
the  defenders  of  Ely  was  hopeless  from  the  outset. 
Their  revolt  was  a  hindrance  to  the  orderly  con- 
duct of  the  Anglo-Norman  government,  but  a 
band  of  outlaws  in  the  fenland  could  do  little  to 
affect  the  course  of  events  elsewhere;  Ely  com- 
manded no  great  road  or  river,  and  its  Isle  was  too 
small  an  area  to  support  an  independent  exist- 
ence apart  from  the  rest  of  the  land.  Its  reduc- 
tion was  only  a  question  of  time,  complicated  by 
the  geographical  difficulties  of  the  district.  It  was 
necessary  that  all  the  waterways  leading  from 
the  fens  to  the  open  sea  should  be  blocked,  and 
this  implied  the  concentration  of  a  considerable 
number  of  ships  and  men-at-arms  along  the 
Great  and  Little  Ouse.  The  siege  of  a  quarter 
of  Cambridgeshire  demanded  a  greater  expen- 
diture of  men  and  money  than  that  of  a  single 
town  or  castle;  but  Hereward  and  his  friends  in 
due  time  were  driven  back  on  Ely  itself,  from 
which  their  raiding  parties  would  make  occa- 
sional descents  upon  the  neighbouring  villages. 

i  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii.,  216.  The  death  of  Edwin  formed 
the  conclusion  of  the  narrative  of  William  of  Poitiers  as 
Orderic  possessed  it. 

298         William  the  Conqueror 

.The  Conqueror  fixed  his  headquarters  at  Cam- 
bridge, some  fifteen  miles  from  Ely,  and  his  main 
attack  was  directed  at  the  point  where  the  Ouse  is 
crossed  by  an  ancient  causeway  near  the  village 
of  Aldreth.  But  even  from  the  latter  place  there 
remained  some  six  miles  of  fen  to  be  crossed  before 
Ely  itself  could  be  reached,  and  we  are  told  on 
good  authority  that  William  caused  a  bridge, 
two  miles  long,  to  be  built  on  the  western  side  of 
the  Isle.1 

The  legendary  accounts  of  the  exploits  of 
Hereward  tell  many  tales  of  the  struggle  which 
raged  before  the  Norman  army  had  pierced  the 
natural  defences  of  Ely,  but  we  cannot  be  sure 
of  the  exact  means  by  which  the  place  was  fi- 
nally reduced.  One  stream  of  tradition  assigned 
the  fall  of  the  Isle  to  the  treachery  of  the  abbot 
and  monks  of  Ely,  and,  although  the  authority 
for  such  a  statement  is  not  first-rate,  it  has  com- 
monly been  accepted  as  representing  the  truth 
of  the  matter.2  It  is  at  least  certain  that  the 
position  in  which  the  monks  of  Ely  found  them- 
selves was  undesirable  at  the  best.  The  conduct 
of  Hereward  and  his  men  at  Peterborough  proves 
them  to  have  been  no  respecters  of  holy  places, 
and  if  the  abbey  bought  immediate  safety  by 
conniving  at  the  deeds  of  the  outlaws  in  its 
neighbourhood,  it  ran  the  risk  of  the  ultimate 
confiscation  of  its  lands  when  King  William  had 
restored  order.  Small  blame  should  rest  upon 

1  Florence  of  Worcester,  1070.        2  Historia  EUensis,  240. 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    299 

the  abbot  if  he  broke  through  the  dilemma  in 
which  he  was  placed  by  assisting  the  Conqueror  in 
the  reduction  of  the  Isle.  But  whatever  the  im- 
mediate cause  of  the  fall  of  Ely,  a  large  number 
of  its  defenders  fell  into  William's  hands  and 
many  of  them  received  from  him  such  measure 
as  twenty  years  before  he  had  dealt  to  the  men  of 
Alengon.  Some  were  blinded  or  otherwise  muti- 
lated and  allowed  to  go  free,  others  were  thrown 
into  prison.  Earl  Morcar  himself  was  sent  into 
Normandy  a  prisoner  and  committed  to  the  chaige 
of  Roger  de  Beaumont1;  the  other  captives  of 
note  were  scattered  over  the  country  in  different 
fortresses.  But  Hereward,  who  in  all  our  author- 
ities stands  out  as  the  leader  of  the  resistance, 
escaped  through  the  marshes  and  a  small 
part  of  his  band  got  clear  of  the  Isle  in  his 

Whatever  the  recent  behaviour  of  the  monks 
of  Ely  may  have  been,  the  abbey  was  constrained 
to  buy  the  king's  peace  at  a  heavy  price.  Seven 
hundred  marks  of  silver  were  originally  demanded 
by  the  Conqueror,  but  the  money  was  found  to  be 
of  light  weight,  and  three  hundred  marks  more 
were  exacted  before  the  abbot  and  monks  were 
reckoned  quit  by  the  king's  officer.  Moreover, 
the  very  precincts  of  the  abbey  were  invaded  to 
find  the  site  for  a  castle  to  command  the  southern 
fenland:  King  William  himself  having  chosen  the 

1  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii.,  216. 
8  Florence  of  Worcester,  1071. 

300         William  the  Conqueror 

ground  during  a  flying  visit  which  he  had  paid 
to  Ely  one  day  while  the  monks  were  seated  at 
dinner.  The  building  of  the  castle,  by  a  Norman 
interpretation  of  the  Anglo-Saxon  duty  of  burh- 
bot,  was  laid  upon  the  men  of  the  three  adjacent 
counties  of  Cambridge,  Huntingdon,  and  Bedford, 
and  it  was  garrisoned  when  built  by  a  body  of 
picked  knights.  Another  castle  at  Aldreth  com- 
manded the  eastern  approaches  to  the  Isle.1  On 
the  other  hand,  it  would  be  some  compensation 
for  these  disturbances  that  within  four  years 
from  the  fall  of  Ely,  and  in  the  lifetime  of  Abbot 
Thurstan,  King  William  decreed  a  formal  restitu- 
tion to  the  abbey  of  all  the  lands  of  which  it  had 
unjustly  been  despoiled  in  recent  years.2  Now 
that  no  further  danger  was  to  be  apprehended 
from  the  nationalist  proclivities  of  the  monks  of 
Ely,  there  was  no  reason  why  the  abbey  should  not 
be  suffered  to  enjoy  its  ancient  possessions 
in  peace;  but  the  record  of  the  plea  which  fol- 
lowed the  Conqueror's  writ  directing  restitution 
proves  that  many  of  the  greater  people  of  the 
land,  including  the  archbishop  Stigand  and  Count 
Eustace  of  Boulogne,  had  been  committing 
wholesale  depredations  on  the  estates  of  St. 

The  subsequent  fate  of  Hereward  is  a  matter 
of  utter  uncertainty;  with  his  flight  across  the 
marshes  of  Ely  he  vanishes  into  the  night  which 

1  Historia  Eliensis,  245. 
^  *  See  "Ely  and  her  Despoflers,"  in  Feudal  England,  459. 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    301 

has  engulfed  the  entire  class  to  which  he  belonged, 
the  smaller  native  land-owners  of  King  Edward's 
day.  Two  lines  of  tradition  were  current  in  later 
years  about  the  manner  of  his  end.  According 
to  the  more  dramatic  narrative,  Hereward  be- 
came reconciled  to  the  Conqueror,  accompanied 
him  in  the  Mancel  campaign  of  1074,  married  a 
noble  and  wealthy  Englishwoman,  and  fell  at  last, 
before  overwhelming  odds,  at  the  hands  of  a 
number  of  Normans,  whose  feud  he  would  seem 
to  have  provoked  in  the  wild  days  of  his  outlawry. l 
In  the  other  story,  Hereward  still  receives  King 
William's  favour  and  marries  the  same  English 
lady  as  in  the  former  legend,  but  he  dies  at  last  in 
peace  after  many  years  in  the  quiet  possession 
of  his  father's  lands.2  The  choice  which  we  may 
make  between  these  divergent  traditions  will 
largely  be  guided  by  inference  from  more  truly 
historical  sources  of  information.  It  is  very 
probable  that  Hereward  made  his  peace  with 
King  William — both  traditions  agree  upon  this 
point;  and  that  casual  expression  in  the  narrative 
of  the  sack  of  Peterborough,  that  Hereward  "in 
after  time  often  told  the  monks  that  he  had  done 
all  for  the  best,"  proves  at  least  that  there  had 
been  a  period  after  the  troubles  of  1071  in  which 
Hereward  had  been  on  terms  of  peaceful  inter- 
course with  his  monkish  neighbours.  So  too  the 
coincidence  of  both  lines  of  tradition  with  regard 

*  Gaimar,  L'estoire  des  Engles,  R.  S. 
a Gesta  Herewardi,  R.  S. 

302         William  the  Conqueror 

to  his  marriage  is  in  favour  of  its  probability, 
but  the  negative  evidence  of  Domesday  Book 
compels  us  to  put  a  period  to  his  life  before 
the  winter  of  1085.    In  no  part  of  England  did  a 
more  numerous  body  of  native  thegns  hold  land 
at  the  latter  date  than  in  Hereward's  own  county 
of  Lincoln,  but  Hereward's  name  is  not  written 
among  them,  and  the  lands  which  he  had  held  of 
Peterborough  abbey  had  been  let  to  a  stranger. 
But  if  the  Hereward  legend  is  not  consistent  with 
itself,  there  is  a  more  significant  discrepancy 
between  the  part  which  its  subject  plays  in 
recorded  history  and  his  position  as  a  hero  of 
romance.    It  is  at  least  certain  that  the  man 
must  have  been  something  more  than  the  vulgar 
freebooter  who  appears  in  the  story  of  the  ruin 
of  Peterborough.    To  him  we  may  safely  credit 
the  long  defence  of  the  Isle  of  Ely,  and  we  may  feel 
confident  that  that  defence  was  accompanied  by 
deeds  of  gallantry  round  which  minstrel  and 
gleeman  might  weave  their  fabric  of  legend  and 
marvel.    Hereward,  after  all,  in  literature,  if  not 
in  fact,  is  the  English  hero  of  the  Norman  Con- 
quest.  A  native  annalist  might  express  his  bitter 
regret  for  the  tragedy  of  King  Harold,  the  com- 
mon folk  of  England  might  turn  Earl  Waltheof 
into  an  uncanonised  saint,  but  Hereward  was 
removed  by  no  great  chasm  of  rank  from  the 
humble  people  who  made  his  deeds  their  story. 
And  it  is  not  a  small  thing  that  the  tale  of  the 
resistance  to  the  Norman  Conqueror,  inglorious 

Danish  Invasion  and  Its  Sequel    303 

,  as  much  of  it  had  been,  should  end  with  the  name 
of  a  man  in  whom  the  succeeding  generations 
might  see  a  true  champion  of  the  independence  of 
the  beaten  race. 

Penny  of  Swegn  Estnthson 



THE  conquest  of  England  had  exalted  William 
of  Normandy  to  a  position  of  dignity  and 
influence  far  above  all  his  fellow-vassals  of  the 
French  crown,  it  had  renewed  the  lustre  of  the 
fame  which  the  Norman  race  had  won  in  its 
earlier  conquest  of  southern  Italy,  but  it  did  not 
mean  an  unqualified  gain  to  the  Norman  state, 
considered  merely  as  a  feudal  power.  The  process 
which  had  turned  the  duke  of  the  Normans  into 
the  king  of  the  English  had  meant  the  withdrawal 
of  Normandy  from  the  feudal  politics  of  Prance 
for  four  years,  and  in  that  interval  certain  changes 
of  considerable  importance  had  taken  place  within 
the  limits  of  the  French  kingdom.  The  Angevin 
succession  war  was  now  over;  Fulk  le  Rechin 
had  his  brother  safely  bestowed  in  prison  and 
could  begin  to  prove  himself  the  true  heir  of 
Geoffrey  Martel  by  renewing  the  latter's  schemes 
of  territorial  aggrandisement.  King  Philip  of 
France  had  reached  an  age  at  which  he  was 
competent  to  rule  in  person,  and  it  was  inevitable 
that  the  enmity  between  Normandy  and  France 
should  become  deeper  and  more  persistent  now 
that  William  had  attained  to  a  rank  which  placed 
him  on  an  equality  with  his  suzerain,  and  could 


Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign    305 

employ  the  resources  of  his  new  kingdom  for  the 
furtherance  of  any  designs  which  he  might  form 
upon  the  integrity  of  the  royal  demesne.  More 
important  than  all,  Count  Baldwin  of  Flanders 
had  died  in  1067,  and  events  were  in  progress 
which  for  twenty  years  placed  the  wealthy  county 
in  steady  opposition  to  the  interests  of  the  Anglo- 
Norman  state. 

Between  1067  and  1070  Flanders  was  under  the 
rule  of  Count  Baldwin  VI.,  the  eldest  son  of  Bald- 
win of  Lille,  who  had  greatly  increased  his  bor- 
ders by  a  marriage  with  Richildis,  the  heiress  of 
the  neighbouring  imperial  fief  of  Hainault.  The 
counts  of  Flanders  made  it  a  matter  of  policy 
to  transmit  their  inheritance  undivided  to  the 
chosen  heir,  and  Robert,  the  younger  son  of  the 
old  Count  Baldwin,  before  his  father's  death  had 
secured  himself  against  his  ultimate  disinherison 
by  marrying  Gertrude,  widow  of  Florent  L,  count 
of  Holland,  and  assuming  the  guardianship  of 
her  son  Theodoric.  On  the  death  of  Baldwin  VI., 
the  ancestral  domain  of  Flanders  descended  to 
his  eldest  son,  Arnulf ,  who  was  placed  under  the 
wardship  of  his  uncle  Robert,  while  Hainault 
passed  to  Baldwin,  the  second  son,  under  the 
regency  of  his  mother  Richildis.  The  two  regents 
were  on  bad  terms  from  the  start,  but  Robert  at 
the  time  was  hard  pressed  to  maintain  his  position 
in  Holland,  and  Richildis  soon  got  possession  of 
Arnulf,  the  heir  of  Flanders,  and  ruled  there  in 
his  name.  But  her  overbearing  conduct  rapidly 

306         William  the  Conqueror 

made  ner  unpopular  in  the  county,  and  Robert 
was  soon  invited  to  invade  Flanders  and  reign 
there  in  his  own  right.  He  accepted  the  invita- 
tion, and  Richildis  thereupon  hired  Kong  Philip 
of  France  to  support  her  with  an  army,  and  of- 
fered her  hand  and  her  dominions  to  William  Fitz 
Osbern,  Earl  of  Hereford.  The  earl,  like  a  good 
knight-errant,  accepted  the  adventure  and  has- 
tened to  the  succour  of  the  lady  with  the  full 
assent  of  his  lord  King  William,  but  fell  into  an 
ambush  laid  by  his  enemy  Robert,  at  Bavinkhove, 
near  Cassel,  and  perished  there  together  with 
Arnulf  his  ward.  Richildis  maintained  the 
struggle  for  a  short  time  longer  with  the  aid  of 
troops  supplied  by  the  prince-bishop  of  Li&ge;  but 
on  their  defeat  near  Mons,  followed  a  little  later 
by  the  surrender  of  Terouenne,  the  ecclesiastical 
capital  of  Flanders,  she  retired  into  the  monastery 
of  Maxines,  and  Robert,  who  is  generally  de- 
scribed in  history  as  the  "Frisian"  from  the 
name  of  his  earlier  principality  on  the  shores  of 
the  Zuyder  Zee,  had  the  permanent  possession 
of  Flanders  thenceforward. 

The  enterprise  of  William  Fitz  Osbern  meant 
the  dissolution  of  the  alliance  between  Normandy 
and  Flanders,  which  had  been  founded  by  the 
Conqueror's  marriage  in  1053.  It  was  true  that 
French  as  well  as  Norman  troops  had  been  in- 
volved in  the  disaster  at  Bavinkhove,  but  William 
deliberately  refused  to  make  peace  with  Robert 
by  recognising  his  right  to  Flanders,  and  threw 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign    307 

him  into  the  arms  of  the  king  of  France  by  main- 
taining the  claims  of  Baldwin,  the  brother  of  the 
dead  Arnulf.  The  close  friendship  which  this 
policy  produced  between  France  and  Flanders 
for  a  time  may  suggest  that  William  for  once 
subordinated  questions  of  state  to  personal 
feeling,  but  his  own  relations  with  a  former  king 
of  France  may  have  taught  him  that  the  alliances 
which  a  French  monarch  founded  with  one  feud- 
atory on  a  common  hostility  towards  another 
were  not  likely  to  be  very  strong  or  permanent. 
It  was  not  long  after  these  events  that  King 
Philip  threw  away  his  Flemish  connections  by  the 
unprovoked  capture  of  Corbie,  preferring,  perhaps 
wisely,  a  definite  territorial  gain  to  a  hazardous 
diplomatic  understanding;  and  when  Robert  the 
Frisian,  in  1085,  at  last  tried  to  take  the  offensive 
against  William,  he  found  support,  not  in  the 
French  monarchy,  but  in  the  distant  powers 
of  Norway  and  Denmark.1 

More  dangerous  than  the  open  hostility  of 
Flanders  were  the  symptoms  of  disaffection  which 
at  this  time  were  beginning  to  show  themselves 
in  the  Norman  dependency  of  Maine.  Fortu- 
nately for  William,  the  county  had  kept  quiet 
during  his  occupation  with  the  affairs  of  England, 
and  the  revolt  which  we  have  now  to  consider 
occurred  at  a  time  when  he  could  give  his  full 
attention  to  the  work  of  its  reduction.  The 

*  See  Varenbergh,  Rdaiums  Diplcmiatiqites  cntre  le  comtc  de 
Flandre  et  V Angletcrre,  Luchaire,  Les  Premiers  Capetiens,  169. 

308          William  the  Conqueror 


nationalist  party  in  Maine  had  only  been  sup- 
pressed, not  crushed,  by  the  conquest  of  1063,  and 
after  some  five  years  of  Norman  rule  their  hopes 
began  to  revive,  fomented  probably  by  external 
suggestion  on  the  part  of  Count  Pulk  of  Anjou. 
There  were  in  the  field  two  possible  claimants, 
both  connected  by  marriage  with  the  line  of 
native  counts:  Azo,  marquis  of  Liguria,  husband 
of  Gersendis,  the  eldest  sister  of  the  Herbert 
whose  death  in  1063  had  led  to  the  Norman 
occupation,  and  John  de  la  Flfeche,  who  had 
married  Paula,  the  youngest  of  Herbert's  three 
sisters.  The  seigneur  of  La  Flfeche  was  an  Angevin 
lord,  but  he  took  the  Norman  side  in  the  war 
which  followed,  and  the  nationalists  made  their 
application  to  the  marquis  of  Liguria,  who  ap- 
peared in  Maine  with  Gersendis  his  wife  and 
Hugh  their  son,  the  latter  being  received  as  the  heir 
of  the  county.1  Azo  had  brought  with  him  great 
store  of  treasure  from  his  Italian  lordship,  with 
which  he  secured  a  recognition  of  his  son's  claims 
from  great  part  of  the  Mancel  baronage,  but  upon 
the  failure  of  his  supplies  his  supporters  began 
to  fall  away,  and  he  soon  retired  in  disgust  beyond 
the  Alps,  leaving  behind  his  wife  and  son  to 
maintain  the  family  cause  under  the  guardian- 
ship of  Geoffrey  of  Mayenne. 

Thus  far  the  Mancel  revolt  had  run  the  normal 
course  of  its  kind,  but  a  more  interesting  develop- 

*  Halphen,  ComtS  d* Anjou,  180,  has  shown  that  Azo  had 
appeared  in  Maine  by  the  spring  of  1069. 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign   s°9 

merit  followed.1     Shortly  after  the  departure  of 

Azo  the  citizens  of  Le  Mans,  rejecting  the  leader- 

ship of  their  baronial  confederates,  broke  away 

on  a  line  of  their  own  which  gives  them  the  dis- 

tinction of  anticipating  by  some  twenty  years 

the  movement  of  municipal  independence  which 

in  the  next  generation  was  to  revolutionise  the 

status  of  the  great  cities  of  Flanders  and  northern 

France.   The  men  of  Le  Mans  formed  themselves 

into  a  "commune"2;  that  is,  a  civic  republic 

administered  by  elective  officers  and  occupying  a 

recognised  legal  position  in  the  feudal  hierarchy 

to   which   it   belonged.     Had   this   association 

persisted,  the  citizens  in  their  collective  capacity 

might  have  held  their  city  of  the  duke  of  Nor- 

mandy or  the  count  of  Anjou,  but  they  would 

have  enjoyed  complete  independence  in  their 

local  government  and  no  principle  of  feudal  law 

would  have  prevented  them  from  appearing,  still 

collectively,  as  the  lord  of  vassals  of  their  own. 

We  do  not  know  whether  they  may  have  been 

prompted  to  take  this  step  by  news  of  Italian 

precedents  in  the  same  direction,  but  the  forma- 

tion of  a  commune  raised  the  revolt  at  a  bound  to 

the  dignity  of  a  revolution.    The  citizens,  as  was 

usual  in  such  cases,  united  themselves  in  an  oath 

to  mafrrfa-in   their  constitution  and  they  coxn- 

1  The  authorities  for  the  present  war  are  the  history  of 
Ordericus  Vitalis  and  the  life  of  Bishop  Arr^ld  of  Le  Mans, 
ed.  Mabillon;  Vetera  Analecta. 

2  "Facta  conspiratione  quam  communionem  vocabant. 
—  Vet.  An.,  315, 

310         William  the  Conqueror 

pelled  Geoffrey  of  Mayenne  and  the  other  barons 
of  the  neighbourhood  to  associate  themselves 
in  the  same.  Herein  lay  the  seeds  of  future 
trouble,  for  Geoffrey  of  Mayenne,  a  typical  feudal 
noble,  had  no  liking  for  municipal  autonomy,  and 
it  was  largely  his  oppression  as  the  representative 
of  Azo  and  his  heir  which  had  stung  the  citizens 
into  this  assertion  of  their  independence. 

At  the  outset  all  went  well  with  the  young 
republic.  We  hear  rumours  of  various  violations 
of  accepted  custom,  of  the  death  penalty  inflicted 
for  small  offences,  and  of  a  certain  disregard  for 
the  holy  seasons  of  the  church;  but  the  citizens 
were  able  to  enter  without  immediate  mishap 
upon  the  work  of  reducing  the  castles  which 
commanded  the  country  around.  The  commune 
of  Le  Mans  did  not  live  long  enough  to  face  the 
problem  of  welding  a  powerful  rural  feudality 
into  a  coherent  city  state,  and  its  overthrow, 
when  it  came,  came  suddenly  and  disgracefully. 
Some  twenty  miles  from  Le  Mans,  the  castle  of 
Sill6  was  being  held  by  Hugh  its  lord  against  the 
commune,  and  the  men  of  the  capital  called  out  a 
general  levy  of  their  supporters  within  the  county 
to  undertake  the  siege  of  the  fortress.  A  consider- 
able body  of  men  obeyed  the  summons,  and  the 
communal  army  set  out  for  Sill6  with  Arnold, 
bishop  of  Le  Mans,  marching  at  its  head.  Hard  by 
the  castle  the  army  from  Le  Mans  was  joined  by 
Geoffrey  of  Mayenne  with  his  tenants;  but  Geof- 
frey felt  the  incongruity  of  joining  with  a  host  of 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign   311 

rebellious  burghers  in  an  attack  on  the  castle 
of  a  fellow-noble,  and  he  secretly  entered  into 
communications  "with  Hugh  of  Sill!  Whether 
the  rout  of  the  civic  host  which  occurred  on  the 
following  day  was  the  result  of  Geoffrey's  treason 
cannot  now  be  decided,  but  a  sudden  sally  on  the 
part  of  the  garrison  threw  the  besiegers  into 
confusion,  and,  although  they  recovered  themselves 
sufficiently  to  maintain  the  fight,  they  were  fi- 
nally scattered  by  a  report  that  Le  Mans  itself  had 
fallen  into  the  enemy's  hand.  Great  numbers 
of  them  perished  in  the  panic  which  followed, 
more  by  the  precipitancy  of  their  flight  than  by 
the  efforts  of  the  men  of  Sill6,  and  Bishop  Arnold 
was  among  the  prisoners. 

Within  the  capital  all  was  confusion.  The  cause 
of  the  commune  had  been  hopelessly  discredited, 
and  there  was  treachery  within  the  city  as  well 
as  in  the  camp  by  Sill£.  The  castle  of  Le  Mans 
was  occupied  in  the  nationalist  interest  by  Ger- 
sendis  of  Liguria,  who,  immediately  upon  the 
retreat  of  her  elderly  husband  to  Italy,  had 
become  the  mistress  of  Geoffrey  of  Mayenne. 
But  Geoffrey,  after  his  conduct  at  Sill6,  did  not 
venture  to  return  to  the  capital,  and  Gersendis, 
unable  to  endure  her  lover's  absence,  began  to  plot 
the  surrender  of  the  castle  to  him.  Her  object  was 
soon  gained,  and  a  fierce  struggle  raged  for  many 
days  between  the  citizens  and  Geoffrey  of  Mayenne, 
now  in  the  possession  of  their  fortress.  Betrayed 
and  desperate,  the  men  of  Le  Mans  appealed 

312         William  the  Conqueror 

foi  help  to  Fulk  of  Anjou,  and  pressed  on  the  siege 
with  such  fury  that  Geoffrey  was  driven  to  make 
his  escape  by  night.  On  Fulk's  arrival  the  castle 
surrendered  to  him,  and  was  dismantled,with  the 
exception  of  such  of  its  fortifications  as  could  be 
turned  to  the  general  defence  of  the  city  against 
the  greater  enemy  who  was  already  on  the  way. 
Quickly  as  events  seem  to  have  moved,  there 
had  yet  been  time  for  news  of  the  revolt  to  be 
brought  to  King  William  in  England,  and  the 
messenger  of  evil  had  been  no  less  a  person  than 
Arnold  bishop  of  Le  Mans  himself.  Long  before 
William's  army  had  been  set  in  motion  Arnold 
had  returned  to  Le  Mans  to  play,  as  we  have 
seen,  a  somewhat  ignominious  part  in  the  catas- 
trophe at  Sill6.  Meanwhile  William  had  gathered 
a  force,  which  is  especially  interesting  from  the 
fact  that  in  it  for  the  first  time  Englishmen  were 
combined  with  Normans  in  the  service  of  the  lord 
of  both  races  beyond  the  sea.  Englishmen  in  the 
next  generation  believed  that  it  was  their  com- 
patriots who  did  the  best  service  in  this  campaign, 
and  William  of  Malmesbury  thought  that  though 
the  English  had  been  conquered  with  ease  in  their 
own  land  yet  that  they  always  appeared  invincible 
in  foreign  parts.1  On  the  present  occasion,  how- 
ever, there  was  little  call  for  feats  of  arms.  Wil- 
liam entered  Maine  by  the  Sarthe  Valley  and 
besieged  Fresnay,  whose  lord,  Hubert,  was  soon 
driven  by  the  harrying  of  his  lands  to  surrender 

*  Cksta  Regum,  ii.,  316. 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign   313 

Fresnay  itself  and  the  lesser  castle  of  Beaumont 
lower  down  the  river.  Sille  was  the  next  point  of 
attack,  but  Hugh  of  Sill6  made  his  submission 
before  the  investment  of  his  castle  had  begun, 
and  William  moved  on  southward  towards 
Le  Mans.  After  the  strife  and  confusion  of  the 
past  months  men  were  everywhere  disposed  to 
welcome  the  King  as  the  restorer  of  peace,  castles 
were  readily  surrendered  to  him,  and  the  way  lay 
open  to  the  distracted  capital.  Here  too,  after  a 
brief  delay,  he  was  received  without  opposition, 
but  the  men  of  Le  Mans,  before  they  surrendered 
the  keys  of  the  city,  obtained  from  the  king  a 
sworn  promise  that  he  would  pardon  them  for 
their  revolt,  and  would  respect  their  ancient 
customs  and  the  independence  of  their  local  rights 
of  jurisdiction.1  The  commune  of  Le  Mans  ceased 
to  exist,  but  in  its  last  moments  it  had  shown  itself 
strong  enough  to  win  an  act  of  indemnity  from 
its  formidable  conqueror,  and  to  guard  itself 
against  the  possible  consequences  of  a  feudal 

The  war  now  entered  upon  another  phase. 
Count  Fulk  was  little  minded  to  forego  the  posi- 
tion he  had  won  in  Le  Mans  as  the  protector  of 
its  commune,  and,  but  for  the  unwonted  strength 
of  the  Anglo-Norman  army,  it  is  likely  enough 
that  he  would  have  made  some  effort  to  oppose 
William's  march  to  the  city.  As  it  was,  however, 
he  contented  himself  with  turning  upon  John 

»  Vetera  Analecta,  286. 

314         William  the  Conqueror 

de  la  Flfeche,  William's  leading  Angevin  adherent, 
who  immediately  appealed  to  his  ally  for  help. 
William  at  once  despatched  a  force  to  his  assistance 
tinder  William  de  Moulins  and  Robert  de  Vieux 
Pont,  a  move  which  had  the  effect  of  widening 
the  area  of  hostilities  still  further.  Fulk  pro- 
ceeded to  the  siege  of  La  Fteche,  and  called  to  his 
assistance  Count  Hoel  of  Brittany.1  The  com- 
bined Breton  and  Angevin  host  would  be  far 
superior  to  any  force  which  William's  lieutenants 
had  in  the  field  in  that  quarter;  and  at  the  head 
of  a  large  army,  now  as  formerly  composed  of 
English  as  well  as  Norman  troops,  he  hastened  to 
La  Fteche  in  person  and  everything  betokened 
a  pitched  battle  of  the  first  class.  But,  at  the 
supreme  moment,  an  unnamed  cardinal  of  the 
Roman  Church,  together  with  some  pious  monks, 
intervened  in  favour  of  peace,  and  within  the  circle 
of  the  Norman  leaders  Counts  William  of  Evreux 
and  Roger  of  Montgomery  were  of  the  same  mind. 
Various  conferences  were  held  to  discuss  the 
conditions  of  a  possible  settlement,  and  at  last, 
at  Blanchelande,  just  outside  the  walls  of  La 
Ffeche,  a  treaty  was  concluded.2  Now,  as  ten 
years  earlier,  Robert  of  Normandy  was  selected 
as  count  of  Maine,  and  to  him  Fulk  of  Anjou 

1  Hod,  unlike  his  predecessors,  followed  a  policy  of  friend- 
ship towards  Anjou,  and  restored  to  Fulk  le  Rechin  the 
conquests  made  by  Count  Conan  on  the  Angevin  march. 
De  la  Borderie,  iii.,  26. 

a  The  terms  of  the  peace  of  Blanchelande  are  given  by 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign    315 

released  the  direct  suzerainty  which  he  claimed 
over  the  barons  of  the  county,  together  with  all 
the  fiefs  which  were  Robert's  marriage  portion 
with  Margaret,  his  affianced  bride  in  1061.  Rob- 
ert, in  return,  recognised  Fulk  as  the  overlord 
of  Maine,  and  did  homage  to  him  in  that  capacity. 
William  promised  indemnity  to  those  Mancel 
barons  who  had  taken  the  Angevin  side  in  the  late 
war,  and  Fulk  was  formally  reconciled  to  John 
de  la  Flfeche,  and  the  other  Angevin  nobles 
who  had  leagued  themselves  with  the  king  of 

The  treaty  was  in  effect  a  compromise.  All  the 
immediate  advantage,  it  is  true,  lay  on  the  Norman 
side:  the  heir  of  Normandy  was  now  the  kwful 
count  of  Maine,  and  Robert's  countship  meant 
the  effective  rule  of  William  the  Conqueror,  who 
even  appropriated  his  son's  title  and  in  solemn 
documents  would  at  times  add  to  his  Norman 
and  English  dignities  the  style  of  "Prince  of  the 
men  of  Maine."  Yet,  on  the  other  hand,  the 
formal  recognition  of  the  Angevin  overlordship 
was  no  small  thing.  It  gave  to  succeeding  counts 
of  Anjou  a  vantage  ground  which  they  did  not 
neglect.  The  line  which  separated  suzerainty 
from  immediate  rule,  clear  enough  in  law,  would 
rapidly  become  indistinct  when  a  strong  prince 
like  Fulk  the  Rechin  was  the  overlord,  and  a 
feckless  creature  like  Robert  Curthose  the  tenant 
in  possession.  More  than  sixty  years  were  to  pass 
before  a  count  of  Anjou  became  the  immediate 

316         William  the  Conqueror 

lord  of  Maine,  but  the  seeds  of  such  a  develop- 
ment were  laid  by  the  treaty  of  Blanchelande. 

In  the  period  which  follows  the  suppression  of 
the  fenland  rising  of  1070,  the  bulk  of  our  his- 
torical information  relates  to  the  affairs  of  the 
Conqueror's  continental  dominions.  But  in  Eng- 
lish history  proper  the  time  was  one  of  crucial 
importance.  Its  character  was  not  such  as  to 
invite  the  attention  of  a  medieval  chronicler, 
eager  to  fill  his  pages  with  a  succession  of  battle- 
pieces:  with  the  exception  of  the  revolt  of  the 
earls  in  1075,  England  was  outwardly  at  peace 
from  the  flight  of  Hereward  to  the  Conqueror's 
death ;  but  it  is  to  this  time  that  we  must  assign 
the  systematic  introduction  of  Norman  methods 
of  government,  and  the  gradual  reconciliation  of 
the  English  people  to  the  fact  that  they  had 
thrown  their  last  try  for  independence,  and  that 
for  good  or  ill  they  must  make  the  best  of  the 
permanent  rule  of  their  alien  masters.  A  process 
of  this  kind,  in  itself  largely  subconscious,  lay 
beyond  the  understanding  of  the  best  monastic 
annalist  or  chronicler,  and  we  shall  never  know 
exactly  in  what  light  the  great  change  presented 
itself  to  the  peasantry  of  a  single  English  village ; 
but  there  are  certain  matters,  more  on  the  surface 
of  the  history,  with  regard  to  which  we  possess 
definite  information,  and  which  themselves  are 
of  some  considerable  importance. 

Prominent  among  these  last  stands  the  question 
of  the  relations  between  the  Conqueror  and  his 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign    317 

unquiet  neighbour,  or,  as  William  would  probably 
have  described  him,  his  unruly  vassal,  Malcolm 
Canmore,  king  of  Scots.  The  Scotch  question  had 
merely  been  shelved  for  a  little  time  by  the  sub- 
mission of  1068,  and  up  to  the  Conqueror's  death 
there  remained  several  matters  in  dispute  between 
the  kings,  each  of  which  might  serve  as  a  decent 
pretext  for  war  if  such  were  needed.  In  particular 
the  English  frontier  on  the  north-west  emphati- 
cally called  for  rectification  from  King  William's 
standpoint.  Ever  since  the  commendation  of 
Cumbria  to  Malcolm  I.,  in  or  about  954,  the 
south-western  border  of  Scotland  had  cut  the 
English  frontier  at  a  re-entrant  angle  at  a  particu- 
larly dangerous  point.  From  the  hills  which  rise 
to  2000  feet  along  the  boundary  between  Cumber- 
land and  Durham,  the  valley  of  the  Tees  affords 
a  gradual  descent  to  the  fertile  country  which  lies 
between  the  moors  of  the  North  Riding  of  York- 
shire and  the  hills  of  Cleveland.  So  long  as  Lothian 
remained  part  of  the  Bernidan  earldom,  the 
strategical  significance  of  Teesdale  was  to  a  great 
extent  masked;  no  king  of  Scots  could  ravage 
the  plain  of  north  Yorkshire  without  facing  the 
possibility  that  his  country  might  be  harried  and 
his  own  retreat  cut  off  by  a  counter  raid  from 
Bamburgh  or  Dunbar.  But  the  cession  of  Lothian 
to  Malcolm  II.  after  the  battle  of  Carham  in  1018 
materially  altered  the  military  situation,  and  but 
for  the  dissensions  within  the  Scotch  kingdom 
which  followed  Malcolm's  death,  it  is  probable 

318         William  the  Conqueror 

that  Yorkshire  during  the  Confessor's  reign  would 
have  received  sharp  proof  of  the  danger  which 
impended  from  the  north-west. 

Malcolm  was  succeeded  by  Duncan,  the  son  of 
his  sister  by  Crinan,  lay  abbot  of  Dunkeld;  and 
on  Duncan's  displacement  by  Macbeth,  leader  of 
the  Picts  beyond  the  Forth,  the  position  of  the 
new  king  was  too  unstable  to  allow  hfm  to  inter- 
fere effectively  on  the  side  of  Northumbria.  Rely- 
ing as, he  did  on  Highland  support,  Macbeth 
seems  tc  have  left  Cumberland  in  virtual  indepen- 
dence, and  it  has  recently  been  proved  that  during 
some  pan  of  the  first  fifteen  years  of  his  reign 
Cumberland  was  largely  settled  by  English  thegns 
who  seem  to  have  regarded  themselves  as  sub- 
ject to  Esrl  Siward  of  Northumbria.1  On  his 
part,  Siw£,rd  supported  the  party  of  Malcolm, 
Duncan's  son ;  but  when,  three  years  after  Siward's 
death,  Malcolm  had  become  king  of  Scots,  the 
tide  began  to  turn,  and  Cumberland  became  once 
more  a  menace  to  the  peace  of  northern  England. 

The  ^restoration  of  the  son  of  Duncan  to  the 
throne  of  Scotland  brought  into  importance  the 
marriage  relationship  which  existed  between  his 
line  and  the  family  which  for  a  century  had  held 
hereditary  possession  of  the  Bernician  earldom. 
The  complicated  relationships  which  united  the 
local  earls  of  Bernicia  will  best  be  illustrated  in 
tabular  form,2  but  the  outline  of  the  Northum- 
brian succession  is  fairly  dear.  Siward,  although 

i  E.  H.  R.,  xx.,  61.  *  See  table  H. 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign    319 

a  Dane  by  birth,  was  connected  by  marriage 
with  the  great  Bernician  house,  but  on  his  death 
in  1055  the  ancient  family  was  dispossessed  of  the 
earldom  in  favour  first  of  Tostig  and  then  of 
Morcar.  Their  earldoms,  however,  were  mere 
incidents  in  the  general  rivalry  between  the 
houses  of  Godwine  and  Leofric,  and  the  attach- 
ment of  the  Northumbrians  to  their  local  dynasty 
is  shown  by  the  fact  that,  at  the  crisis  of  1065, 
Morcar  is  found  appointing  Oswulf ,  son  of  Earl 
Eadwulf  II.,  subordinate  earl  of  Bernicia  beyond 
the  Tyne.  Upon  Oswulfs  murder  his  cousin 
Gospatric,  as  we  have  seen,  bought  a  recognition 
of  the  family  claims  from  the  Conqueror;  and  it 
is  not  improbable  that  the  latter,  when  making 
Gospatric  his  lieutenant  in  Northumbria,  may 
have  had  in  mind  some  idea  of  securing  peace  from 
the  side  of  Scotland  and  conciliating  the  local 
sentiment  of  the  north  through  an  earl  who 
inherited  the  blood  of  the  ancient  lords  of  Bam- 
buxgh  and  was  near  of  kin  to  the  king  of  Scots. 
The  plan  in  the  first  instance  failed  through  the 
defection  of  Gospatric  in  the  summer  of  1068, 
but  the  rapidity  with  which  his  restoration  fol- 
lowed the  submission  which  he  tendered  by  proxy 
to  William  on  the  bank  of  the  Tees  at  the  close  of 
1069  is  itself  significant.  In  the  interval  created 
by  Gospatric's  deposition  there  had  occurred  the 
disastrous  experiment  of  the  appointment  of 
Robert  de  Comines.  It  was  as  important  now  as 
two  years  previously  to  prevent  the  men  of 

320         William  the  Conqueror 

Northumberland  and  Durham  from  making  com- 
mon cause  with  Malcolm  of  Scotland  against  the 
Norman  government;  and  now  as  formerly  Gos- 
patric  was  the  one  man  who  could,  if  he  chose, 
perform  this  work.  But  before  another  year 
had  passed  the  precarious  tranquillity  of 
the  north  was  again  broken,  and  the  Scotch 
danger  reasserted  itself  in  the  acutest  of 

We  might  gather  from  the  table  above  referred 
to,  alone,  that  Malcolm,  by  his  English  connections, 
would  be  the  natural  protector  of  any  dispossessed 
natives  who  might  choose  to  seek  refuge  at  his 
court,  and  we  have  seen  that  Edgar  the  Etheling 
had  twice  been  driven  to  escape  beyond  the 
Tweed.  We  possess  no  information  as  to  the 
motives  which  induced  Malcolm  in  the  course  of 
1070  to  break  peace  with  King  William.  In  his 
barbarian  mind  Malcolm  may  have  conceived  of 
himself  as  avenging  the  wrongs  of  his  English 
friends  by  harrying  the  land  from  which  they  had 
been  driven,  or,  more  probably,  the  withdrawal 
of  the  Conqueror  from  the  north  may  have  seemed 
to  him  to  open  a  safe  opportunity  for  an  extended 
plunder  raid.  Possibly  he  regarded  his  cousin 
Gospatric  as  having  betrayed  the  cause  of  his 
people  by  doing  homage  to  the  Norman  Con- 
queror, but  whatever  the  immediate  cause,  he 
suddenly  fell  upon  Northumbria  by  way  of 
Cumberland  and  Teesdale,  harried  Cleveland  and 
Holderness,  and  then  turned  back  again  upon  the 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign   321 

modern  shire  of  And  it  was  while  he 
was  in  the  act  of  burning  the  town  of  Wearmouth 
that  Edgar  the  Etheling,  with  his  mother  and 
sisters,  accompanied  by  Marleswegn,  Harold's 
former  lieutenant  in  the  north,  and  other  battered 
relics  of  the  national  party,  landed  from  their 
ships  in  the  harbour.2  So  long  as  the  Danes 
under  Earl  Asbiorn  had  kept  to  the  Humber,  it 
would  seem  that  the  etheling  had  been  content 
to  drift  about  aimlessly  with  them,  but  their 
departure  for  Ely  had  driven  him  to  seek  refuge  for 
a  third  time  within  two  years  at  the  Scottish 
court.  Malcolm  went  down  to  the  fugitives  and 
assured  them  of  a  welcome  in  Scotland,  whither 
they  sailed  off  without  delay,  while  he  betook 
himself  with  renewed  energy  to  his  work  of 

For  in  the  meantime  Gospatric  had  been  doing 
what  he  would  consider  to  be  his  duty  as  the  law- 
ful earl  of  Bernicia:  while  Malcolm  was  harrying 
Durham,  Gospatric  was  harrying  Cumberland. 
The  action  taken  by  King  Malcolm  had  for  the 
time  being  destroyed  all  possibility  of  a  coalition 
between  Scot  and  Bernician,  and,  on  the  present 
occasion,  Gospatric's  fidelity  was  unimpeachable, 
if  his  generalship  was  bad.  He  was  successful 

1  Simeon  of  Durham,  1072. 

a  This  third  flight  of  Edgar  to  Scotland  rests  solely  upon 
the  authority  of  Simeon  of  Durham,  and  it  is  quite  possible 
that  the  latter  may  have  been  confused  about  the  course  of 
events  at  this  point. 

322          William  the  Conqueror 

in  carrying  off  much  booty  to  his  fortress  of 
Bamburgh,  but  he  did  nothing  to  check  the  Scot 
king's  depredations,  and  the  news  of  what  had 
been  happening  in  Cumberland  excited  Malcolm 
to  a  state  of  fury,  in  which  he  committed  the 
most  appalling  atrocities  on  the  country  folk  of 
the  region  through  which  his  northward  march 
lay.  Red-handed  as  he  was,  Malcolm  on  his 
return  to  Scotland  found  the  English  exiles  in  the 
enjoyment  of  his  peace,  and  forthwith  insisted 
that  Margaret,  the  etheling's  sister,  should  be 
given  to  him  in  marriage.  Some  project  of  the 
kind  had  undoubtedly  been  mooted  during  the 
etheling's  earlier  visits  to  Scotland,  but  Margaret 
felt  a  desire  to  enter  the  religious  life ;  and  nothing 
but  the  fact  that  the  very  existence  of  the  fugi- 
tives lay  at  Malcolm's  mercy  induced  the  etheling 
to  give  his  consent  to  the  union.  The  exact  date 
of  the  ceremony  is  uncertain,  but  it  may  not  un- 
reasonably be  placed  in  the  course  of  1071,  and 
with  the  alliance  of  the  royal  houses  of  Scotland 
and  Wessex  the  northern  kingdom  begins  to 
emerge  from  its- barbaric  isolation,  and  to  fill  a 
permanent  place  in  the  political  scheme  of  English 

To  William  the  marriage  was  no  matter  of  con- 
gratulation. It  meant  that  the  Scottish  court 
would  become  definitely  interested  in  the  restora- 
tion of  the  old  English  dynasty ;  so  long  as  such  an 
event  were  possible,  it  was  likely  to  make  Scotland 
both  a  refuge  and  a  recruiting  ground  for  any 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign   323 

political  exile  who  might  choose  to  attempt  his 
return  by  force  and  arms.  To  minimise  these 
evils,  and  to  avenge  the  harrying  of  1070,  the 
Conqueror  in  the  summer  of  1072  set  out  for 
Scotland  in  person.  The  expedition  was  planned 
on  a  great  scale;  the  fyrd  was  called  out,  and  the 
naval  force  which  was  at  William's  command 
co-operated  with  the  native  host.  Malcolm  seems 
to  have  felt  himself  unequal  to  meeting  a  force  of 
this  size  in  the  open  field;  he  allowed  William 
to  pass  through  Lothian  and  to  cross  the  Forth 
without  any  serious  obstruction,  and  the  two 
kings  met  at  Abernethy  on  the  Tay.  There  Mal- 
colm renewed  his  homage  to  William,  made  peace, 
and  gave  hostages  for  its  observance,  among  them 
Donald,  his  son  by  his  first  wife,  Ingibiorg.  The 
expedition  could  not  have  been  intended  to  ac- 
complish more  than  this,  and  William  at  once 
turned  southwards,  retracing  his  steps  along  the 
great  east  coast  road.1 

Nothing  appears  to  have  been  done  at  this 
time  to  improve  the  defences  of  the  northern 
border.  Carlisle  remained  in  Scotch  hands,  and  the 
site  of  the  future  Newcastle  on  the  Tyne  is  only 
mentioned  in  the  record  of  this  march  through 
the  fact  of  the  river  being  flooded  at  the  moment 
when  the  army  sought  to  cross  it,  thereby  causing 
an  inconvenient  delay.  The  importance  of  the 
Teesdale  gap  had  been  sufficiently  proved  by  the 
events  of  1070,  but  no  attempt  was  made  to 

»  Worcester  Chronicle,  1073. 

324         William  the  Conqueror 

guard  the  course  of  the  river  in  any  special  man- 
ner. On  the  other  hand  we  should  do  well  not  to 
ignore  the  possibility  that  the  first  creation  of  "the 
earldom  of  Richmond  immediately  to  the  south 
of  the  Tees  may  not  have  been  unconnected  with 
the  advisability  of  keeping  a  permanent  military 
force  in  this  quarter.  The  earldom  in  question 
had  been  conferred  upon  Brian  of  Penthievre  in 
or  before  1068,  and  had  passed  from  him  to  his 
brother  Alan  by  the  date  of  the  events  with  which 
we  are  dealing.1  So  far  as  we  know  King  William 
never  created  an  earldom  save  for  purposes  of 
border  defence,  and  the  geographical  facts  which 
we  have  just  noted  make  it  distinctly  improbable 
that  Richmond  was  an  exception  to  this  rule. 

Two  important  changes  in  the  government  of 
Northumbria  would  seem  to  have  been  carried  out 
at  this  time.  The  first  was  the  installation  of 
Walcher  of  Lorraine  as  bishop  of  Durham,  and 
his  establishment  in  a  castle  especially  built  for 
him,  so  that  he  might  be  secure  against  any 
spasmodic  rising  on  the  part  of  the  men  of  his 

*  Brian's  tenure  of  the  earldom  of  Richmond  is  proved  by 
a  charter  to  the  priory  of  St.  Martin  de  Lamballe,  in  which 
lands  are  granted  by  "Brientius,  comes  Anglica  terra." 
(De  la  Borderie,  iii.,  25.)  As  Brian's  father,  Count  ifon  of 
Penthievre,  did  not  die  before  1079  the  title  " conies"  cannot 
refer  to  any  French  county  possessed  by  Brian.  As  in  the 
eleventh  century  every  "earldom"  consisted  of  a  shire  or 
group  of  shires,  it  would  seem  to  follow  that  Richmondshire 
at  this  date  was  regarded  as  a  territorial  unit  distinct  from 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign   325 

great  diocese.  The  second  event  was  the  deposi- 
tion of  Earl  Gospatric.  He  was  held  guilty,  we 
are  told,  of  complicity  in  the  murder  of  Robert 
de  Comines,  and  the  Danish  storm  of  York  in  1069, 
although  his  offences  in  both  these  matters  had 
been  committed  previous  to  his  reconciliation 
with  William  in  1070.  Whatever  may  have  been 
the  true  cause  of  his  downfall,  it  was  followed 
immediately  by  the  restoration  of  the  house  of 
Siward  to  its  former  position  in  the  north,  for 
the  earldom  of  Northumbria  was  now  given 
to  Waltheof  of  Huntingdon,  Siward's  son,  and 
remained  in  his  hands  until  the  catastrophe 
which  overtook  him  three  years  later.  Gospatric 
in  the  meantime  betook  himself  to  his  cousin's 
court  and  received  from  him  a  large  estate  in 
Lothian,  centring  round  the  town  of  Dunbar,  until 
he  might  be  restored  to  King  William's  favour* 
With  this  act  his  political  importance  ceases; 
Domesday  proves  that  the  whole  or  part  of  his 
Yorkshire  estates  had  been  restored  to  him  by  the 
time  of  the  talcing  of  the  Survey,  but  he  never 
recovered  his  former  rank  and  influence. 

It  has  been  conjectured  with  much  probability 
that  one  of  the  conditions  of  the  peace  of  Aberne- 
thy  was  the  expulsion  of  Edgar  the  Etheling  from 
Scotland.1  Shortly  after  this  time  he  appears 
as  beginning  a  series  of  journeys,  which  before 
long  brought  Hm  once  more  into  England  as  the 
honoured  guest  of  King  William.  His  first  visit 

*  Norman  Conquest,  iv.,  517. 

326         William  the  Conqueror 

was  paid  to  Flanders,  where  he  would  be  sure  of  a 
kindly  reception  from  Robert  the  Frisian,  by  this 
time  William's  mortal  enemy.  After  a  stay  of 
uncertain  length  in  Flanders  he  returned  to  Scot- 
land, where  he  landed  early  in  July  1074,  and  was 
hospitably  entertained  by  his  sister  and  her 
husband.  Before  long,  however,  he  received  an 
invitation  from  King  Philip  of  France,  offering 
to  put  Vrim  in  possession  of  the  castle  of  Montreuil, 
which  he  might  use  as  a  base  from  which  to 
attack  his  enemies.1  The  offer  shows  considerable 
strategical  sense  in  the  young  king  of  France. 
Montreuil  was  the  first  piece  of  territory  which 
the  Capetian  house  had  gained  on  the  Channel 
coast,  but  it  was  separated  by  the  possessions  of 
the  house  of  Vermandois  from  the  body  of  the 
royal  demesne,  and  it  lay  between  the  counties  of 
Ponthieu  and  Boulogne.  Once  established  in 
Montreuil  Edgar  could  have  received  constant  sup- 
port from  Robert  the  Frisian;  and  if  the  counts 
of  Ponthieu  or  Boulogne  wished  to  revolt  from 
the  Norman  connection  Edgar's  territory  would 
have  made  it  possible  to  form  a  compact  and 
powerful  league  against  the  most  vulnerable  part 
of  the  Norman  frontier. 

Edgar  complied  with  King  Philip's  request,  and 
set  out  by  sea  to  take  possession  of  his  castle; 
the  good-will  of  his  Scottish  protectors  being 
expressed  in  a  multitude  of  costly  gifts.  Un- 
fortunately for  the  success  of  his  enterprise  he  was 

»  Worcester  Chronicle,  1075. 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign  327 

speedily  driven  on  to  the  English  coast  by  a 
storm  and  some  of  his  men  were  taken  prisoner, 
but  he  succeeded  in  reaching  Scotland  again, 
although  in  very  miserable  condition.  Curiously 
enough  this  slight  check  to  his  plans  seems  to 
have  caused  him  to  abandon  outright  the  idea  of 
occupying  Montreuil,  and  we  are  told  that  his 
brother-in-law  advised  him  to  make  terms  with 
King  William.  The  Conqueror  was  at  the  time  in 
Normandy,  but  he  gave  a  ready  hearing  to  the 
overtures  from  Edgar  and  directed  that  an  escort 
should  be  sent  to  accompany  him  through  Eng- 
land and  across  the  Channel.  Of  the  meeting 
between  the  king  and  the  etheling  in  Normandy 
we  possess  no  details,  but  the  English  writers 
were  struck  with  the  honours  which  the  Con- 
queror showed  to  his  former  rival,1  and  Domesday 
reveals  the  latter  in  peaceable  possesion  of  upwards 
of  a  thousand  acres  of  land  in  the  north-east  of 
Hertfordshire.  For  the  rest  of  William's  reign 
Edgar  remained  a  political  cipher. 

We  have  now  reached  the  central  event  of 
William's  rule  in  England,  the  revolt  of  the  earls 
in  1075.  The  rising  in  question  is  sufficiently 
characterised  by  the  name  which  is  generally 
assigned  to  it;  it  was  a  movement  headed  by  two 
of  the  seven  earls  who  held  office  in  England, 
incited  by  the  motives  proper  to  men  of  their 
rank,  and  finding  little  support  outside  the  body 
of  their  personal  dependants.  It  had  no  popular 

i  Worcester  Chronicle,  1075. 

328         William  the  Conqueror 

or  provincial  feeling  behind  it;  it  cannot  even  be 
described  as  a  purely  Norman  revolt,  for  the  mass 
of  the  English  baronage  held  true  to  King 
William,  and  its  most  striking  result  was  the  execu- 
tion of  the  last  English  earl,  for  complicity  in  the 
designs  of  his  Norman  confederates. 

On  the  death  of  William  Fitz  Osbern  in  1071  his 
earldom  of  Hereford  had  passed  to  his  son,  a 
stupid  and  vicious  young  man,  in  every  way  a 
degenerate  successor  to  the  tried  and  faithful 
friend  of  the  Conqueror.  From  the  moment  of 
his  succession  to  his  earldom  Roger  seems  to  have 
kept  himself  in  sullen  isolation  in  his  palatinate 
across  the  Severn;  his  name  has  not  yet  been 
found  among  the  visitors  to  William's  court  who 
witnessed  the  charters  which  the  king  granted 
during  these  years,  and  we  should  know  nothing 
about  the  man  or  his  character  if  it  were  not  for 
the  preservation  of  three  letters  addressed  to 
him  by  his  father's  old  friend  Archbishop  Lan- 
franc.  At  the  time  when  these  letters  were 
written,  William  was  in  Normandy,  and  Lanfranc 
had  been  left  in  a  sort  of  unofficial  regency,  in 
which  position  he  had  clearly  been  rendered  un- 
easy by  rumours  of  Roger's  growing  disaffection. 
Lanfranc,  in  his  correspondence,  was  tactfully 
indefinite  on  the  latter  point,  but  he  was  very 
outspoken  in  regard  to  Roger's  personal  acts  of 
oppression  and  injustice.  By  the  example  of 
William  Fitz  Osbern,  "whom,"  says  Lanfranc, 
"I  loved  more  than  anyone  else  in  the  world," 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign   329 

the  archbishop  pleaded  with  his  friend's  son  to 
amend  his  conduct,  and  promised  to  see  him  and 
give  him  counsel  on  whatever  occasion  he  might 
choose.  But  Roger  remained  obdurate,  and  in  the 
last  letter  of  the  three  which  we  possess  Lanfranc 
declares  Roger  excommunicate  until  he  has  com- 
pensated those  whom  he  has  injured,  and  has 
made  his  peace  with  the  king  for  his  arbitrary 
acts  in  his  earldom. 

The  position  of  Waltheof  at  this  time  has 
already  been  described.  His  Bernician  earldom 
was  less  important  on  this  occasion  than  were 
the  group  of  shires  in  the  eastern  midlands  over 
which  he  also  possessed  comital  rights.  The 
four  counties  of  Northampton,  Bedford,  Hunting- 
don, and  Cambridge,  together  with  Waltheof  s 
extensive  estates  in  Leicestershire  and  Warwick- 
shire, went  far  towards  connecting  the  palatinate 
of  Hereford  with  the  distant  earldom  of  East 
Anglia,  the  most  dangerous  quarter  of  the  present 

rebellion.  . 

The  earl  of  East  Anglia,  Ralf  of  Wader,  might, 
like  Waltheof,  claim  to  be  considered  an  English- 
man; for,  although  his  mother  was  a  Breton  and 
his  father  also  bore  the  Norman  name  of  Ralf,  the 
latter  was  an  Englishman  of  Norfolk  birth,  and 
had  been  earl  of  East  Anglia  under  Edward  the 
Confessor  and  during  the  earliest  years  of  the 
Conqueror.  Ralf  the  younger,  despite  his  suc- 
cession to  his  father's  earldom,  is  identified  with 
his  mother's  land  of  Brittany,  where  he  held  the 

330         William  the  Conqueror 

estates  of  Wader  and  Montfort,  rather  than  with 
England.1  Like  Roger  of  Hereford,  and  judging 
from  the  same  evidence,  Earl  Ralf  would  seem  to 
have  been  a  consistent  absentee  from  William's 
court,  and  his  one  appearance  in  the  history  of  the 
latter's  reign,  previous  to  his  own  revolt  in  1075, 
took  place  in  1069,  when  he  beat  off  the  Danes 
from  the  estuary  of  the  Yare. 

The  immediate  cause  of  the  present  outbreak 
was  the  Conqueror's  objection  to  a  marriage 
which  had  been  projected  between  Earl  Ralf  and 
Emma,  daughter  of  William  Fitz  Osbern  and 
sister  of  Roger  of  Hereford.  The  reasons  for  the 
Conqueror's  action  are  intelligible  enough;  nothing 
could  be  further  from  his  interest  than  the  cre- 
ation of  a  series  of  marriage  ties  among  the  greater 
vassals  of  his  crown,  especially  when  the  parties 
to  be  connected  in  this  way  held  the  wide 
military  and  territorial  powers  which  at  this 
early  date  were  inherent  in  the  dignity  of  an  earl. 
There  is  no  reason  to  suppose  that  Earl  Ralf's 
loyalty  had  been  suspected  at  any  earlier  time  or 
that  there  was  anything  deeper  than  the  royal' 
prohibition  of  his  marriage  which  now  drove 
him  into  revolt.  Without  the  king's  consent, 
the  marriage  was  celebrated  and  the  wedding 
feast  held  at  Exning  in  Cambridgeshire,  a  vill 
within  Waltheof's  earldom.  Earls  Roger  and 
Ralf  had  already  made  preparations  for  their 

1  According  to  Wace  Ralf  had  served  among  the  Breton 
auxiliaries  at  the  battle  of  Hastings. 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign   331 

rising,  their  friends  had  been  acquainted  with  their 
intention,  and  their  castles  were  prepared  to  stand 
a  siege;  and  at  Exning  a  determined  attempt 
was  made  to  seduce  Waltheof  from  his  temporary 
fidelity  to  King  William.    His  accession  to  their 
cause  might  very  possibly  bring  with  it  some 
measure  of  English  support,  he  had  a  great  pop- 
ular reputation  as  a  warrior,  and  the  plans  and 
motives  of  the  conspirators  were  unfolded  to  him  at 
the  wedding  feast  with  startling  frankness.    The 
occasion  was  hardly  such  as  to  produce  sobriety 
of  counsel,  and  in  the  one  extended  narrative 
which  we  possess  of  the  original  plot,  the  terms 
of  the  offer  now  made  to  Waltheof  were  involved 
in  a  long  harangue,  in  which  the  deposition  of  the 
Conqueror  was  declared  to  be  a  matter  pleasing 
to  God  and  man,  and  every  event  in  William's 
life  which  could  be  turned  to  his  discredit  was 
brought  forward,  heightened  according  to  the 
taste  of  the  conspirators  or  the  literary  skill  of 
our  informant.     More  important  than  the  gro- 
tesque crimes  attributed  to  the  Conqueror  are  the 
plans  formed  by  the  earls  for  the  event  of  his 
expulsion.     Their  object,  we  are  told,  was  to 
restore  England  to  the  condition  in  which  it  had 
existed  in  the  days  of  Edward  the  Confessor. 
With  this  object,  one  of  the  three  chief  plotters 
was  to  be  king,  the  other  two  earls;  Waltheof  in 
particular  was  to  receive  a  third  part  of  England. 
William  was  declared  to  be  fully  occupied  beyond 
the  sea,  his  Normans  in  England  were  assumed 

33 2         William  the  Conqueror 

to  be  discontented  with  the  reward  they  had 
received  for  their  services,  and  it  was  suggested 
that  the  native  English  might  be  willing  to  rise 
once  more  if  a  chance  of  revenge  were  offered 
them.  Waltheof  was  assured  that  the  chances 
of  a  successful  rising  could  never  be  higher  than 
at  the  moment  in  question.1 

The  narrative  of  Ordericus  Vitalis,  which  we 
have  hitherto  been  following,  makes  Waltheof 
indignantly  refuse  to  be  a  party  to  any  scheme 
of  the  kind.  By  the  examples  of  Ahitophel  and 
Judas  Iscariot  he  demonstrated  the  sinister  fate 
that  was  the  portion  of  a  traitor,  and  declared 
that  he  would  never  violate  the  confidence  that 
King  William  had  placed  in  him.  On  his  refusal 
to  join  the  plot,  he  was  compelled  to  take  a 
terrible  oath  not  to  betray  the  scheme  and  the 
rising  was  accomplished  without  his  assistance; 
but  after  its  suppression  the  tale  makes  Waltheof 
accused  of  treason  by  Judith  his  wife  before  the 
king,  and  describes  his  behaviour  in  prison  and 
the  manner  of  his  end  with  great  wealth  of  de- 
tail and  a  not  improbable  approximation  to  the 
facts  of  the  case.  It  seems  fairly  certain  that 
Waltheof  took  no  effective  part  in  the  military 
operations  which  followed  the  bridal  of  Exning, 
and  we  may  consider  the  difficult  question  con- 
nected with  his  trial  and  execution  apart  from 
the  details  of  the  war. 

The  plan  of  campaign  followed  by  both  sides 

>  Ordericus  Vitalis ,  ii.,  258  et  seq.' 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign   333 

was  extremely  simple.  Neither  the  earldom  of 
East  Anglia  or  of  Hereford  acting  by  itself  could 
obtain  any  permanent  success  against  the  loyal 
portions  of  the  country;  the  object  of  the  rebel 
leaders  was  to  join  their  forces,  and  the  object  of 
King  William's  lieutenants  was  to  prevent  the 
combination.  The  line  of  the  Severn  was  guarded 
against  Earl  Roger  of  Hereford  by  the  local 
magnates  of  Worcestershire,  Wulfstan  the  bishop, 
and  Urse  d'Abetot  the  sheriff  of  the  shire,  Agelwig, 
abbot  of  Evesham,  and  Walter  de  Lacy,  at  the  head 
of  a  force  composed  of  the  local  fyrd  in  conjunc- 
tion with  the  knightly  tenants  from  their  own 

The  Herefordshire  revolt  had  soon  run  its 
course;  Earl  Roger  never  got  across  the  Severn 
and  within  a  short  time  had  been  taken  prisoner, 
but  the  earl  of  East  Anglia  was  a  person  of 
greater  ability.  Before  engaging  in  the  rebellion 
the  earls  had  sought  for  external  help;  applica- 
cation  had  been  made  to  the  King  of  Denmark 
for  a  fleet,  and  reinforcements  had  been  drawn 
from  Brittany,  recruited  in  great  part,  no  doubt, 
from  the  Breton  estates  of  Ralf  de  Wader.  From 
the  latter's  head-quarters  at  Norwich  a  highroad 
of  Roman  origin  stretched  invitingly  across  the 
Norfolk  plain  towards  the  royal  castle  of  Cam- 
bridge, and  Earl  Ralf  moved  westward  in  the 
hope  of  effecting  a  junction  with  Roger  of  Here- 
ford; but  at  an  unknown  place  in  the  neighbour- 

1  Florence  of  Worcester,  1074. 

334         William  the  Conqueror 

hood  of  this  line,  designated  by  Ordericus  Vitalis 
as  "Fagadun,"  the  rebel  army  was  broken  and 
scattered,  and  from  a  letter  which  Lanfranc  wrote 
to  the  king  immediately  after  this  event,  the 
archbishop  was  evidently  in  expectation  of  a 
speedy  suppression  of  the  whole  rising.  That 
this  hope  was  frustrated  was  due  to  the  heroism 
of  Earl  Ralf  's  bride,  who  undertook  the  defence  of 
Norwich  castle  in  person,  while  her  lord  went  off 
to  Denmark,  and  held  out  for  three  months 
against  all  that  the  Norman  commanders  could  do. 
At  last  she  was  compelled  to  surrender  upon  con- 
ditions. The  Breton  tenants  of  Earl  Ralf  in  Eng- 
land were  required  to  abandon  their  lands  and 
to  withdraw  to  Brittany  within  forty  days;  the 
mercenaries  of  the  same  race  were  allowed  a 
month  to  get  away  from  the  country,  Emma 
herself,  to  whom  belonged  all  the  honours  of  the 
war,  went  to  Brittany,  where  she  met  her  husband, 
and  Norwich  castle  was  once  more  occupied  in 
the  king's  name. 

Earl  Ralf's  journey  to  Denmark  had  not  been 
fruitless,  for  a  fleet  of  two  hundred  Danish  ships 
appeared  in  the  Humber  shortly  after  the  fall  of 
Norwich,  under  the  command  of  Cnut,  son  of 
King  Swegn  Estrithson,  and  a  certain  earl  called 
Hakon.1  Their  coming  reopened  an  endless 
possibility  of  further  trouble;  the  Conqueror, 
through  Archbishop  Lanfranc,  enjoined  Bishop 
Walcher  of  Durham  to  look  well  to  the  defences 

*  Worcester  Chronicle,  1076. 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign  335 

of  his  castle. l  But  the  first  object  of  the  ordinary 
Danish  commander  of  those  times  was  always 
plunder,  and  Cnut  after  successfully  evading  the 
royal  troops  contented  himself  with  the  sack  of 
York  cathedral,  and  quickly  sailed  away  to 
Flanders.  In  the  very  year  of  this  expedition 
(1075),  Swegn  Estrithson  died,  and  Harold,  his 
eldest  son,  who  succeeded  him,  kept  peace  towards 
England  throughout  his  reign.  In  the  autumn 
of  1075  William  had  returned  to  England,  and  at 
Christmas  he  proceeded  to  deal  with  the  persons 
and  property  of  the  revolted  earls.  Waltheof 
and  Roger  were  in  his  power;  Ralf  was  safe 
beyond  the  sea,  but  his  English  lands  remained  for 
confiscation,  and  such  of  his  Breton  associates  as 
were  in  the  king's  hands  were  punished  according 
to  the  fashion  of  the  times.  Earl  Roger  was  sent 
to  prison,  but  his  captivity  at  first  was  not  over 
severe,  and  had  it  not  been  for  his  contumelious 
conduct  towards  the  king  he  might  have,  obtained 
his  release  in  due  course.  Unfortunately  for 
himself,  he  mortally  offended  William  by  throwing 
into  the  fire  a  rich  present  of  silks  and  furs  which 
the  king  sent  to  him  one  Easter,  and  perpetual 
captivity  was  the  return  for  the  insult.  The 
relative  leniency  of  the  Conqueror's  treatment 
of  Roger  contrasts  very  strikingly  with  his  atti- 
tude to  the  third  earl  implicated  in  the  revolt, 
and  "no  incident  in  King  William's  career  has  won 
more  reprobation  from  medieval  and  modern 


336          William  the  Conqueror 

historians  than  the  sentence  which  he  allowed 
to  be  passed  on  Earl  Waltheof. 

We  have  already  sketched  in  outline  the  narra- 
tive of  Waltheof  s  action  as  given  by  Ordericus 
Vitalis,  and  it  will  be  well  now  to  consider  .briefly 
the  independent  story  told  by  the  native  English 
chronicles.1  On  all  accounts  it  is  certain  that 
Waltheof  had  been  implicated  in  the  treason 
proposed  at  Exning,  and  it  is  no  less  dear,  though 
the  fact  is  suppressed  by  Orderic,  that  he  had 
speedily  repented  and  under  the  advice  of  Lan- 
franc  had  revealed  the  whole  scheme  to  Kong 
William  in  Normandy.2  The  part  played  by 
Lanfranc  is  explicable,  not  only  by  the  spfecies 
of  regency  he  held  in  the  kingdom  at  the  time, 
but  also  by  his  position  as  metropolitan  of  the 
English  church,  and  his  reputation  as  a  famous 
doctor  of  the  canon  law.  No  ma,n  was  better 
qualified  to  give  a  sound  opinion  as  to  the  circum- 
stances under  which  an  indiscreet  oath  might 
be  broken  without  the  guilt  of  perjury;  and  the 
penances  which  he  imposed  on  Waltheof  for  his 
intended  breach  of  the  engagement  which  he  had 
taken  at  Exning  seem  to  have  been  accepted  by  all 
parties  as  a  satisfactory  solution  of  the  matter. 
On  his  part,  William  bided  his  time;  he  appears  to 
have  accepted  the  gifts  which  Waltheof  offered 
as  the  price  of  his  peace,  and  he  contented  himself 

*  Florence  of  Worcester,  1074. 

*  It  does  not  appear  that  any  medieval  historian  regarded 
this  as  an  act  of  treachery  on  Waltheof fs  part. 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign   337 

with  keeping  the  earl  under  his  own  supervision 
until  his  return  to  England.  Not  till  then  was 
Waltheof  placed  under  actual  arrest,  and  it  has 
been  conjectured  that  the  reason  for  this  action 
was  the  fear  that  he  might  make  his  escape  to  the 
Danes  in  the  Humber.1  At  the  midwinter  coun- 
cil of  1075  he  was  brought  to  trial,  whether  or  not 
upon  information  laid  against  him  by  his  wife, 
the  countess  Judith,  and  although  no  definite 
sentence  was  passed  against  him  at  this  time  he 
was  sent  into  closer  imprisonment  at  Winchester. 

For  the  first  five  months  of  1076  Waltheof's 
cause  remained  undecided.  It  is  clear  that 
there  was  considerable  uncertainty  in  high  quarters 
as  to  what  should  be  done  with  him.  Lanfranc 
interceded  on  his  behalf,  apparently  going  so  far 
as  to  declare  him  innocent  of  all  complicity  in  the 
revolt.  We  are  told  nothing  of  the  Conqueror's 
own  sentiments  in  the  matter,  but  the  strange 
delay  in  the  promulgation  of  definite  sentence 
suggests  that  throughout  these  months  he  had 
been  halting  between  two  opinions.  At  last 
the  sterner  view  prevailed,  and  under  the  influence 
of  Waltheof's  Norman  rivals  at  the  royal  court, 
according  to  Ordericus  Vitalis,  the  king  gave 
orders  for  the  execution  of  the  last  English  earl. 

Early  on  the  morning  of  the  sist  of  May, 
Waltheof  was  taken  from  his  prison  in  Winchester 
to  die  on  the  hill  of  St.  Giles  outside  the  city. 
Accustomed  hitherto  to  the  active  life  of  his 

i  F.  N.  C.,  iv.,  585. 

338         William  the  Conqueror 

northern  ancestors,  the  motonony  of  his  im- 
prisonment would  seem  to  have  destroyed  his 
courage,  and  the  fatal  morning  found  him  in 
bitter  agony  of  soul.  The  executioners,  who 
feared  a  rescue,  and  were  anxious  to  get  through 
with  the  work,  had  little  patience  with  his  prayers 
and  weeping,  and  bade  him  rise  that  they  might 
carry  out  their  orders.  Waltheof  begged  that  he 
might  be  allowed  to  say  a  pater  nosier  for  himself 
and  them,  and  they  granted  his  request,  but  at  the 
clause  "  ei  ne  nos  inducas  in  tentationem"  his  voice 
failed  him,  and  he  burst  into  a  storm  of  tears. 
Before  he  could  recover  his  strength,  his  head  had 
been  struck  from  him  at  a  single  blow,  but  the 
monks  of  Crowland  abbey,  where  his  body  lay  in 
after  years,  told  their  Norman  visitor  Ordericus 
Vitalis  that  the  severed  head  was  heard  duly  to 
finish  the  prayer  with  "sed  libera  nos  a  malo, 

The  case  of  Earl  Waltheof  involves  two  sepa- 
rate questions  which  it  is  well  to  keep  distinct 
in  estimating  the  justice  of  King  William's  con- 
duct in  the  matter.  The  first  is  how  far  Waltheof 
had  really  implicated  himself  in  the  designs  of 
the  earls  of  East  Anglia  and  Hereford;  the  second 
is  what,  on  the  assumption  of  his  serious  guilt, 
would  have  been  the  lawful  punishment  for  it. 
It  does  not  seem  likely  that  the  first  question  will 
ever  be  finally  answered,  for  by  a  singular  chance 
none  of  our  authorities  are  quite  disinterested 
when  thev  relate  the  circumstances  of  Waltheof 's 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign   339 

fall.  The  Anglo-Saxon  chronicler  and  Florence 
of  Worcester,  compatriots  of  the  dead  earl, 
lie  tinder  some  antecedent  suspicion  of  minimising 
the  extent  to  which  he  had  compromised  him- 
self;  and  Ordericus  Vitalis,  to  whom  we  should 
naturally  turn  for  a  statement  of  the  Norman 
side  of  the  case,  based  his  accout  of  Waltheof 
upon  information  received  from  the  monks  of 
Crowland  at  a  time  when  the  earl  was,  in  popular 
sentiment,  rapidly  becoming  transformed  into  a 
national  martyr.  Orderic's  narrative,  written 
under  such  influences,  has  just  as  much  historical 
value  as  any  professed  piece  of  martyrology; 
that  is,  it  probably  presents  the  authentic  tradition 
of  the  details  of  its  hero's  death,  but  it  is  not 
concerned  to  pay  a  scrupulous  regard  to  facts  which 
might  be  inconvenient  for  his  reputation.  And  so 
King  William  for  once  has  no  apologist;  but  sixty 
years  after  the  event  it  was  recognised  by  an 
impartial  writer  like  William  of  Malmesbury 
that  the  Norman  story  about  Waltheof  was  very 
different  from  that  which  the  English  put  forward. 
With  such  untrustworthy  authorities  as  our 
only  guides,  we  should  scarcely  attempt  to  settle 
a  matter  which  in  the  days  of  King  Stephen  was 
already  a  burning  question,  but  our  hesitancy 
should  make  us  pause  before  we  accuse  King 
William  of  judicial  murder. 

To  the  second  of  the  problems  arising  out  of  the 
case — the  sentence  which  followed  Waltheof s 

»  Gesta  Regum,  ii..  3"- 

340         William  the  Conqueror 

condemnation — it  is  possible  to  find  a  more  satis- 
factory answer.  Nothing  is  more  probable  than 
that  the  Conqueror,  in  sending  Roger  of  Hereford 
into  prison  and  beheading  Waltheof,  was  simply 
applying  to  criminals  of  high  rank  the  great 
principle  that  men  of  Norman  or  of  English  race 
should  be  judged  respectively  according  to  Nor- 
man or  English  law. l  Earl  Roger  as  a  Norman, 
according  to  a  practice  on  which  we  have  already 
had  occasion  to  remark,  was  condemned  to 
imprisonment,  but  English  law  regarded  treason 
as  a  capital  offence,  and  Waltheof  suffered  the 
strict  legal  penalty  of  his  crime.  Indeed,  Waltheof 
himself,  in  Orderic's  version  of,  his  reply  to  the 
conspirators  at  Exning,  is  made  to  declare  that 
the  English  law  condemned  a  traitor  to  lose  his 
head,  and  it  is  probable  that  he  was  better  in- 
formed on  this  point  than  have  been  some  of  the 
later  historians  who  have  undertaken  his  defence. 
During  the  next  century,  members  of  the  Norman 
baronage  established  in  England  who  had  raised 
an  unsuccessful  revolt  uniformly  received  sentence 
according  to  the  rule  which  applied  to  men  of 
their  race ;  and  the  execution  of  a  traitor  against 
the  king  will  scarcely  occur  between  noo  and 
1200,  and  but  rarely  in  the  course  of  the  thirteenth 
century.  But  Waltheof  -had  no  privilege  of  the 
kind,  and,  stern  as  was  his  sentence,  he  might  not 
complain  that  formal  justice  had  been  denied  him. 

1  This  point  is  made  by  Pollock  and  Maitland.    H.  E.  L., 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign  341 

The  revolt  of  1075  produced  a  sequel  in  a  small 
continental  war.    Earl  Ralf ,  as  we  have  seen,  had 
fled  to  his  estates  in  Brittany,  and  his  appearance 
coincided  in  point  of  time  with  the  outbreak  of  a 
general  revolt  among  the  Breton  baronage.   Count 
Hoel,  who  possessed  in  his  own  right  five-sixths 
of  Brittany,  was  the  first  of  his  line  to  exercise 
effective  rule  over  the  whole  peninsula,  and  the 
fact  was  little  to  the  liking  of  his  greater  subjects. 
The  malcontents  found  a  leader  in  Geoffrey  "Gre- 
nonat,"  count  of  Rennes,  an  illegitimate  son  of 
Alan   III.;  and  the  dispossessed  earl  of  East 
Anglia  brought  the  resources  of  his  barony  of 
Wader  to  their  side.    Ralf  and  Geoffrey  seized 
the  castle  of  Dol;  and  the  rising  assumed  such 
serious  proportions  that  Hoel  sent  to  England, 
and  requested  King  William's  assistance.   William, 
ever  desirous  of  asserting  Norman  influence  in 
Brittany,  took  the  present  opportunity,  and  in 
1076  he  crossed  the  Channel  with  a  force  which 
to  the  chroniclers  of  Worcester  and  Peterborough 
represented  an  English  fyrd,  and  laid  siege  to  Dol. 
The  result  was  a  serious  loss  of  prestige,   for 
the  garrison  had  answered  Hoel's  application  to 
William  by  making  a  counter-appeal  to  Philip  of 
France,  and  held  out  valiantly  in  the  expecta- 
tion of  relief.    Philip  took  the  field  with  a  large 
army,  advanced  to  Dol,  and  took  a  measure  of 
revenge  for  his  father's  discomfitures  at  Mortemer 
and  Varaville,  by  compelling  William  to  beat  a 
hasty  retreat  with  the  loss  of  his  baggage  and 

342         William  the  Conqueror 

stores.  William  engaged  no  further  in  the 
war  which  dragged  on  for  three  years  longer, 
but  ended  in  1079  with  the  final  success  of 

In  the  meantime,  certain  important  changes 
had  taken  place  in  the  administrative  geogra- 
phy of  England.  The  earldoms  of  Hereford  and 
East  Anglia,  vacant  through  the  treason  of  Earls 
Roger  and  Ralf ,  were  allowed  to  fall  into  abeyance. 
Waltheof 's  earldom  of  Northampton  likewise  be- 
came extinct,  although  his  widow,  the  countess 
Judith,  was  possessed  in  1086  of  large  estates 
scattered  over  the  shires  "which  had  lain  within 
her  husband's  government.  There  was  no  particu- 
lar reason  why  Northamptonshire  should  possess 
an  earl,  but  it  was  still  abundantly  necessary  that 
William  should  be  represented  by  a  permanent 
lieutenant  on  the  Scotch  border.  An  earl  for 
Bernicia  was  now  found  in  the  person  of  Walcher 
of  Lorraine,  whose  appointment  anticipated  by 
more  than  sixty  years  the  beginning  of  the  long 
series  of  bishops  of  Durham,  whose  secular  powers 
within  their  diocese  produced  the  "county  pala- 
tine" which  lasted  until  1836.2  The  experiment 

1  For  the  rest  of  the  Conqueror's  reign,  there  was  peace 
between  Normandy  and  Brittany,  except  that  in  1086 
William,  to  whom  the  new  count  Alan  Feigant,  the  son  of 
Hoel,  had  refused  homage,  crossed  the  border  once  more  and 
laid  siege  to  Dol.  In  this  siege  also  he  was  unsuccessful, 
and  speedily  came  to  terms  with  Alan,  who  received  Con- 
stance, the  Conqueror's  daughter,  in  marriage. 

a  Simeon  of  Durham,  1075. 

Central  Years  of  the  English  Reign   343 

made  in  Walcher's  appointment  was  destined  to 
end  in  tragic  failure,  but  for  four  years  Northum- 
brian affairs  relapse  into  unwonted  obscurity, 
and  the  Conqueror  was  never  again  called  upon  to 
lead  an  army  into  the  north. 

Denier  of  Robert  le  Prison 



WTH  the  peace  of  Blanchelande  we  enter 
upon  the  last  phase  in  the  life  of  William 
the  Conqueror,  and  this  although  more  than  the 
half  of  his  English  reign  still  lay  in  the  future. 
It  must  be  owned  that  no  unity  of  purpose  or 
achievement  can  be  traced  underlying  this  final 
stage;  the  history  of  these  last  years  is  little 
more  than  a  series  of  disconnected  episodes,  of 
which  the  details  themselves  are  very  imperfectly 
known  to  us.  It  has,  in  fact,  been  customary 
for  historians  to  regard  this  period  as  marking 
somewhat  of  a  decline  in  the  character  and 
fortunes  of  the  Conqueror;  a  decline  which  the 
men  of  the  next  generation  were  inclined  to 
attribute  to  supernatural  vengeance  pursuing  the 
king  for  his  execution  of  Earl  Waltheof  in  1076. 
"Such  was  his  resolution,"  says  Orderic,  "that 
he  still  maintained  a  brave  fight  against  his 
enemies,  but  success  did  not  crown  his  enterprises 
now  as  formerly,  nor  were  his  battles  often  crowned 
with  victory."  1  This  idea  of  retributive  fate, 
characteristic  of  the  medieval  mind,  has  received 
from  historians  various  adaptations  and  exempli- 

1  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii.,  290. 


The  Last  Years  of  the  Conqueror   345 

fications,  but  perhaps  a  more  reasonable  expla- 
nation of  the  tameness  of  the  last  years  of  the 
Conqueror  would  be  that  the  achievements  of 
the  decade  between  1060  and  1070  inevitably 
make  the  succeeding  history  something  of  an 
anticlimax.  The  Conqueror's  last  wars  are  in- 
deed inconsiderable  enough  when  compared  with 
the  campaigns  of  Le  Mans  and  Hastings,  but  the 
most  unique  undertaking  of  his  life  falls  within 
two  years  of  its  close;  and  with  the  Domesday 
Survey  before  us  we  need  no  further  proof  that 
the  far-sightedness  of  the  king's  policy  and  the 
strength  of  his  executive  power  were  still  unim- 
paired at  the  very  close  of  his  career. 

The  main  cause  of  the  difficulties  which  beset  the 
King  in  these  latter  years  was  the  undutiful 
eagerness  of  Robert  of  Normandy  to  anticipate 
his  inheritance.  It  was  natural  enough  that 
Robert  should  wish  to  enjoy  the  reality  of  power; 
for  a  dozen  years  at  least  he  had  been  the  recog- 
nised heir  of  Normandy,  and  the  peace  of 
Blanchelande  had  recently  assigned  him  the 
county  of  Maine.  But  so  early  as  1074  the  earls  of 
Hereford  and  Norfolk,  in  planning  their  revolt,  are 
understood  to  have  reckoned  the  disagreement 
between  the  King  and  his  eldest  son  among  the 
chances  in  their  favour,1  and  it  is  certain  that 
Robert  had  been  bitterly  discontented  with  his 
position  for  some  time  before  he  broke  out  into 
open  revolt.  The  chronology  of  his  movements 

i  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii.,  259. 

346         William  the  Conqueror 

is  far  from  clear;  but  at  some  time  or  other  he 
made  a  wild  attempt  to  seize  the  castle  of  Rouen, 
and  when  this  failed  he  found  an  immediate 
refuge  and  base  of  operations  in  the  land  of  Hugh 
de  Chdteauneuf ,  a  powerful  lord  on  the  border 
between  Normandy  and  the  royal  demesne, 
who  allowed  him  to  occupy  his  castles  of  Raima- 
last,  Sorel,  and  ChSteauneuf.  King  William,  on 
his  part,  confiscated  the  lands  of  the  rebels;  he 
also  took  into  his  pay  Count  Rotrou  of  Mortagne, 
the  overlord  of  Hugh  of  CMteauneuf  for  Raima- 
last;  and  Robert  was  soon  driven  to  seek  a  more 
distant  exile  in  foreign  parts.  He  first  visited 
Flanders,  but  Robert  the  Frisian,  notwithstanding 
his  enmity  towards  his  formidable  brother-in- 
law,  did  not  think  it  worth  while  to  spend  his 
resources  upon  his  irresponsible  nephew,  for  the 
latter  is  represented  as  wandering  vaguely  over 
Touraine,  Germany,  Aquitaine,  and  Gascony  in 
great  destitution.  To  such  straits  was  he  reduced, 
that  his  mother  provoked  the  one  dispute  which 
varied  the  domestic  peace  of  the  Conqueror's 
married  life  by  sending  supplies  to  her  son  in 
exile.  The  king,  on  discovering  this,  became 
convulsed  with  rage,  poured  reproaches  on  his 
queen  for  her  support  of  a  rebel,  and  ordered  one 
of  her  messengers,  who  happened  to  be  within  his 
power,  to  be  seized  and  blinded.  The  latter, 
however,  a  Breton  named  Samson,  received  a 
timely  hint  of  his  danger  from  persons  in  the 
confidence  of  the  queen,  and  took  refuge  in  the 

The  Last  Years  of  the  Conqueror   347 

monastery  of  St.  Evroul,  "for  the  safety  alike  of 
his  soul  and  body,"  says  Ordericus  Vitalis,  who 
for  some  forty  years  was  his  fellow-inmate  in  the 

At  last  King  Philip  took  pity  upon  the  fugitive 
Robert  and  allowed  him  to  establish  himself 
in  the  castle  of  Gerberoi  in  the  Beauvaisis.  The 
king's  patronage  of  Robert  ranks,  as  a  matter  of 
policy,  with  his  gift  of  Montreuil  to  Edgar  the 
Etheling  in  1074;  Philip  was  always  ready  to  take 
an  inexpensive  opportunity  of  harassing  his 
over-mighty  vassal.  Around  Robert,  in  this  cave 
of  Adullam,  there  gathered  a  force  of  adventurers 
from  Normandy  and  the  French  kingdom,  in- 
cluding many  men  who  had  hitherto  been  good 
subjects  to  King  William,  but  now  thought  it  ex- 
pedient to  follow  the  rising  fortunes  of  his  heir. 
William  retaliated  by  garrisoning  the  Norman 
castles  which  lay  nearest  to  Gerberoi,  so  as  to 
prevent  the  rebels  from  harrying  the  border; 
and  in  some  way  he  must  have  brought  the  king 
of  France  over  to  his  side;  for  when,  in  the  last 
days  of  1078,  he  laid  formal  siege  to  his  son's 
castle,  we  know  on  good  authority  that  King 
Philip  was  present  in  his  camp.1  The  siege  lasted 
for  three  weeks,  and  in  one  of  the  frequent  en- 
counters between  the  loyalists  and  the  rebels 

i  Charter  of  King  Philip  to  St.  Quentin,  Gallia  Christ;  X. 
Inst.  347.  Among  the  witnesses  are  Anselm  of  Bee,  and 
Ives  de  Beaumont,  the  father-in-law  of  Hugh  de  Grente- 

348         William  the  Conqueror 

there  occurred  the  famous  passage  of  arms  between 
the  Conqueror  and  his  son.  William  was  wounded 
in  the  hand  by  Robert,  his  horse  was  killed  under 
him,  and  had  not  a  Berkshire  thegn,  Tokig,  son  of 
Wigod  of  Wallingford,  gallantly  brought  another 
mount  to  the  king,1  it  is  probable  that  his  life 
would  have  come  to  an  ignominious  dose  beneath 
the  walls  of  Gerberoi.  It  was  very  possibly  the 
scandal  caused  by  this  episode  which  led  certain 
prominent  members  of  the  Norman  baronage 
to  offer  their  mediation  between  the  king  and  his 
heir.  The  siege  seems  to  have  been  broken  up 
by  mutual  consent;  William  retired  to  Rouen, 
Robert  made  his  way  once  more  into  Flanders, 
and  a  reconciliation  was  effected  by  the  efforts 
of  Roger  de  Montgomery,  Roger  de  Beaumont, 
Hugh  de  Grentemaisnil,  and  other  personal 
friends  of  the  king.  Robert  was  restored  to 
favour,  his  confederates  were  pardoned,  and  he 
once  more  received  a  formal  confirmation  of 
his  title  to  the  duchy  of  Normandy.  For  a  short 
time,  as  charters  show,  he  continued  to  fill  his 
rightful  place  at  his  father's  court,  but  his  vaga- 
bond instincts  soon  became  too  strong  for  Tn'm 
and  he  left  the  duchy  again,  not  to  return  to  it 
during  his  father's  lifetime. 

One  is  naturally  inclined  to  make  some  com- 
parison between  these  events  and  the  rebellion 
which  a  hundred  years  later  convulsed  the  domin- 
ions of  Henry  II.  Fundamentally,  the  cause  of 

*  Worcester  Chronicle,  1079, 

The  Last  Years  of  the  Conqueror   349 

each  disturbance  was  the  same — the  anxiety 
of  the  reigning  king  to  secure  the  succession, 
met  by  equal  anxiety  on  the  part  of  the  destined 
heir  to  enjoy  the  fruits  of  lordship.  And  in  each 
case  the  character  of  the  respective  heirs  was 
much  the  same.  Robert  Curthose  and  Henry 
Fitz  Henry,  both  men  of  chivalry,  rather  than  of 
politics,  showed  themselves  incapable  of  appre- 
ciating the  motives  which  made  their  fathers 
wish  to  maintain  the  integrity  of  the  family  pos- 
sessions; the  fact  that  they  themselves  were 
debarred  from  rewarding  their  private  friends 
and  punishing  their  enemies,  seemed  to  them  a 
sufficient  reason  for  imperilling  the  results  of 
the  statesmanship  which  had  created  the  very 
inheritance  which  they  hoped  to  enjoy.  Robert 
of  Normandy,  a  gross  anticipation  of  the  chival- 
rous knight  of  later  times,  represents  a  type 
of  character  which  had  hitherto  been  unknown 
among  the  sons  of  Rollo,  a  type  for  which  there 
was  no  use  in  the  rough  days  when  the  feudal 
states  of  modern  Europe  were  in  the  making,  and 
which  could  not  attain  any  refined  development 
before  the  Crusades  had  lifted  the  art  and  the  ideals 
of  war  on  to  a  higher  plane.  William  the  Con- 
queror, by  no  means  devoid  of  chivalrous  instincts, 
never  allowed  them  to  obscure  his  sense  of  what 
the  policy  of  the  moment  demanded;  Henry  II. 
was  much  less  affected  by  the  new  spirit;  both 
rulers  alike  were  essentially  out  of  sympathy 
with  sons  to  whom  great  place  meant  exceptional 

35°          William  the  Conqueror 

opportunities  for  the  excitement  and  glory  of 
military  adventure,  rather  than  the  stern  re- 
sponsibilities of  government. 

We  know  little  that  is  definite  about  the  course 
of  events  which  followed  upon  the  reconciliation 
of  King  William  and  his  heir.  The  next  two  years 
indeed  form  a  practical  blank  in  the  personal 
history  of  the  Conqueror,  and  it  does  not  seem 
probable  that  he  ever  visited  England  during 
this  interval.  In  his  absence  the  king  of  Scots 
took  the  opportunity  of  spreading  destruction 
once  again  across  the  border,  and  in  the  summer 
of  1079  he  harried  the  country  as  far  as  the  Tyne, 
without  hindrance,  so  far  as  our  evidence  goes, 
from  the  clerical  earl  of  Northumbria.  The 
success  of  this  raid  was  a  sufficient  proof  of  the 
weakness  of  the  Northern  frontier  of  England, 
and  in  the  next  year *  Robert  of  Normandy  was 
entrusted  with  the  command  of  a  counter-expedi- 
tion into  Scotland,  with  orders  to  receive  the 
submission  of  the  king  of  Scots,  or,  in  case  he 
proved  obdurate,  to  treat  his  land  as  an  enemies* 
country.  The  Norman  army  penetrated  Scotland 
as  far  as  Falkirk,  and,  according  to  one  account, 
received  hostages  as  a  guarantee  of  King  Mal- 
colm's obedience.  Another  and  more  strictly 
contemporary  narrative,  however,  states  that  this 
part  of  the  expedition  was  fruitless;  but,  in  any 
case,  Robert  on  his  return  founded  the  great 
fortress  of  Newcastle-on-Tyne  as  a  barrier 

*  S.  D.,  Gesta  Regum,  1080, 

The  Last  Years  of  tae  Conqueror   351 

against  future  incursions  from  the  side  of 

Some  information  as  to  William's  own  move- 
ments in  Normandy  during  1080  may  be  gathered 
from  charters  and  other  legal  documents.  On 
the  7th  of  January  he  was  at  Caen,1  and  on 
the  i3th  he  appears  at  BoscherviUe  on  the 
Seine2;  at  Easter  he  held  a  great  court  probably 
at  Rouen.3  At  Whitsuntide  he  presided  over  a 
council  at  Lillebonne,4  where  a  set  of  canons  was 
promulgated  which  strikingly  illustrates  his 
opinion  as  to  the  relations  which  should  exist 
between  church  and  state. 

Whitsunday  in  1080  fell  on  the  sist  of  May, 
and  serious  disturbances  had  been  taking  place 
in  England  earlier  in  the  month.  Bishop  Walcher 
of  Durham  had  proved  an  unpopular  as  well  as 
an  inefficient  earl  of  Northumbria.  Himself  a 
foreigner  and  a  churchman,  he  must  from  the  out- 
set have  been  out  of  touch  with  the  wild  English- 
men placed  under  his  rule,  and  the  situation  was 
aggravated  by  the  fact  that  the  bishop's  priestly 
office  compelled  him  to  transact  the  work  of 
government  in  great  part  by  deputy.  He  entrusted 
the  administration  of  his  earldom  to  a  kinsman  of 
his  own  called  Gilbert,5  and  in  all  matters  of 
business  he  relied  on  the  counsel  of  an  ill-assorted 

*  Round,  Calendar,  No.  1114.         *  Ibid.,  1113. 

« Ibid.,  78.  *  Orderic,  ii.f  31$- 

*  This  fact  is  of  importance,  as  giving  an  example,  rare  in 
England,  of  a  true  "vicecomes,"  an  earl's  deputy  as  distil 
guished  from  a  sheriff. 

William  the  Conqueror 

pair  of  favourites,  one  of  them  a  noble  Northum- 
brian thegn  called  Ligulf ,  who  found  his  way  to  his 
favour  by  the  devotion  which  he  professed  to 
Saint  Cuthbert,  the  other  being  his  own  chaplain, 
Leobwine,  a  foreigner.  Jealousy  soon  broke  out 
between  the  thegn  and  the  chaplain,  and  at  last 
the  latter,  being  worsted  by  his  rival  in  a  quarrel 
in  the  bishop's  presence,  took  the  above  men- 
tioned Gilbert  into  his  confidence  and  prevailed 
on  him  to  destroy  the  Englishman  secretly.  On 
hearing  the  news  the  bishop  was  struck  with 
dismay,  and,  in  his  anxiety  to  prove  his  innocence, 
summoned  a  general  meeting  of  the  men  of  his 
earldom  to  assemble  at  Gateshead.  The  assembly 
came  together,  but  the  Bernicians  were  in  a  danger- 
ous humour;  the  bishop  dared  not  risk  a  delib- 
eration in  the  open  air,  and  took  refuge  in  the 
neighbouring  church.  Instantly  the  gathering 
got  out  of  hand,  the  church  was  surrounded  and 
set  on  fire,  and  the  bishop  and  his  companions 
were  cut  to  pieces  by  the  mob. 

For  such  an  act  as  this  there  could  be  no  mercy. 
The  punishment  of  the  murderers  was  left  to 
Walcher's  fellow-prelate  Odo  of  Bayeux,  and 
the  vengeance  which  he  took  was  heavy.  It 
must  have  been  impossible  to  determine  with 
accuracy  the  names  of  those  who  had  actually 
joined  in  the  crime,  but  it  is  evident  that  men 
from  all  parts  of  Bernicia  had  taken  part  in  the 
meeting  at  Gateshead,  and  the  whole  earldom  was 
held  implicated  in  the  murder,  Accordingly  the 

The  Last  Years  of  the  Conqueror   353 

whole  district  was  ravaged,  and  the  bishop  of 
Bayeux  administered  death  and  mutilation  on  a 
scale  unusual  even  in  the  eleventh  century.1 
To  the  thankless  dignity  of  the  Northumbrian 
earldom,  the  Conqueror  appointed  Aubrey  de 
Coucy,  a  powerful  Norman  baron;  but  he  soon 
abandoned  the  task  of  governing  his  distressful 
province  and  retired  to  his  continental  estates. 
To  him  there  succeeded  Robert  de  Mowbray,  who 
was  destined  to  be  the  last  earl  of  Bernicia,  but 
who  proved  more  successful  than  any  of  his 
predecessors  in  the  work  of  preserving  order 
and  watching  the  movements  of  the  king  of 
Scots;  and  for  the  next  ten  years  Northumbria 
under  his  stern  rule  ceases  to  trouble  the  central 
administration . 

The  chief  interest  of  the  following  year  in  the 
history  of  the  Conqueror  lies  in  the  singular 
expedition  which  he  made  at  this  time  beyond 
the  limits  of  his  immediate  rule  into  the  extreme 
parts  of  Wales.  The  various  but  scanty  accounts 
of  this  event  which  we  possess  are  somewhat 
conflicting.  The  Peterborough  chronicler  says 
that  the  king  "in  this  year  led  an  army  into 
Wales  and  there  freed  many  hundred  men." 
The  Annales  Cambrics  tell  us  that  "William, 
king  of  the  English,  came  .to  St.  David's  that 
he  might  pray  there."  Very  possibly  the  Con- 
queror did  in  reality  pay  his  devotions  at  the 

i  For  all  these  events  Simeon  of  Durham  is  the  authority 
giving  most  detail. 

354         William  the  Conqueror 

shrine  of  the  apostle  of  Wales,  but  secular  motives 
were  not  lacking  for  an  armed  demonstration  in 
that  restless  land.  So  long  as  the  Normans  in 
England  itself  were  only  a  ruling  minority,  holding 
down  a  disaffected  population,  the  conquest  of 
Wales  was  an  impossibility ;  and  yet  on  all  grounds 
it  was  expedient  for  the  king  to  show  the  Welsh- 
men what  reserves  of  power  lay  behind  his 
marcher  earls  of  Shrewsbury  and  Chester.  The 
expedition  has  a  further  interest  as  one  of  the 
earliest  occasions  on  which  it  is  recorded  that 
the  feudal  host  of  England  was  called  to  take 
the  field;  the  local  historian  of  Abingdon  abbey 
remarked  that  nearly  all  the  knights  belonging 
to  that  church  were  ordered  to  set  out  for  Wales, 
although  the  abbot  remained  at  home.1  It  does 
not  appear  that  any  of  the  native  princes  of  South 
Wales  suffered  displacement  at  this  time;  the 
one  permanent  result  of  the  expedition  would 
seem  to  have  been  the  foundation  of  Cardiff 
castle2  as  an  outpost  in  the  enemies'  land.  The 
strategical  frontier  of  England  in  this  quarter 
consisted  of  the  line  of  fortresses  which  guarded 
the  lower  course  of  the  Wye,  and  the  settlement  of 
the  Welsh  question,  like  the  settlement  of  the 
Scotch  question,  was  a  legacy  which  the  Con- 
queror left  to  his  successors. 

After  these  events,  but  not  before  the  end  of 
the  year,  King  William  withdrew  into  Normandy. 

1  Hist.  Monast.  de  Abingdon,  ii.,  10. 
'  Brwt  y  Tywysogion,  1080. 

The  Last  Years  of  the  Conqueror  355 

and  probably  spent  the  greater  part  of  1082  in  his 
duchy.  But  his  return  to  England  was  marked 
by  one  of  the  most  dramatic  incidents  in  his 
whole  career,  the  famous  scene  of  the  arrest  of 
Odo,  bishop  of  Bayeux  and  earl  of  Kent.  Up 
to  the  very  moment  of  the  bishop's  fall,  the  rela- 
tions between  the  brothers  appear  to  have  been 
outwardly  friendly,  and  in  an  English  charter  of 
the  present  year,  the  bishop  appears  at  court 
in  full  enjoyment  of  his  lay  and  spiritual  titles,1 
The  cause  of  the  final  rupture  is  uncertain.  Or- 
dericus  Vitalis  2  assigned  it  to  the  unprecedented 
ambition  of  Bishop  Odo,  who,  not  content  with 
his  position  in  England  and  Normandy,  was  sup- 
posed to  be  laying  his  plans  to  secure  his  election 
to  the  papal  chair  at  the  next  vacancy.  Accord- 
ing to  this  tale,  the  bishop  had  bought  himself 

1  Mon.  Angl.t  viL,  993,  from  an  "  inspeximus  "  of  31  Ed.  I. 
The  charter  in  question  is  dated  "apud  villam  Dontonam," 
which  in  the  index  to  the  volume  of  Patent  Rolls  is  identified 
with  Downton,  Wilts.  William,  at  Downton,  may  very 
well  have  been  on  his  way  to  one  of  the  Hampshire  or  Dorset 

3  iii.,  z 68.  On  the  other  hand,  Giesbrecht  (iii.,  531)  has 
suggested  that  a  political  difference  was  the  occasion  of  the 
quarrel  between  Odo  and  William,  the  former  wishing  to 
take  up  arms'  for  Gregory  VII.,  while  the  latter  was  on 
friendly  terms  with  the  emperor.  But  Gregory  himself  in  a 
letter  addressed  to  William  (Register ;  viii.,  60),  while  re- 
proving his  correspondent  for  lack  of  respect  towards  his 
brother's  orders,  admits  that  Odo  had  committed  some 
political  offence  against  the  king.  As  to  the  nature  of  that 
offence,  we  have  no  contemporary  statement,  nor  do  we 
know  how  far  Gregory  may  have  possessed  accurate  informa- 
tion as  to  the  motives  which  induced  William's  action. 

3S6          William  the  Conqueror 

a  palace  in  Rome,  bribed  the  senators  to  join  his 
side,  and  engaged  a  large  number  of  Norman 
knights,  including  no  less  a  person  than  the  earl 
of  Chester,  to  follow  him  into  Italy  when  the  time 
for  action  came.  Whatever  Odo's  plans  may 
have  been,  William  received  news  of  them  in 
Normandy,  and  he  hurried  across  the  Channel, 
intercepting  Odo  in  the  Isle  of  Wight.  Without 
being  actually  arrested,  Odo  was  placed  under 
restraint,  and  a  special  sitting  of  the  Commune 
Concilium  was  convened  to  try  his  case.  The 
subsequent  proceedings  were  conducted  in  the 
Isle  of  Wight,  very  possibly  in  the  royal  castle 
of  Carisbrooke,  and  King  William  himself  seems 
to  have  undertaken  his  brother's  impeachment. 
The  articles  laid  against  Odo  fell  into  two  parts, 
a  specific  charge  of  seducing  the  king's  knights 
from  their  lawful  duty,  and  a  general  accusation 
of  oppression  and  wrong-doing  to  the  church  and 
to  the  native  population  of  the  land.  The  task 
of  giving  judgment  on  these  points  belonged  by 
customary  law  to  the  barons  in  council,  but  they 
failed  to  give  sentence  through  fear  of  the  formi- 
dable defendant  before  them,  and  the  Conqueror 
himself  was  compelled  to  issue  orders  for  Odo's 
arrest.  Here  another  difficulty  presented  itself, 
for  no  one  dared  lay  hands  on  a  bishop ;  and  upon 
William  seizing  his  brother  with  his  own  hands, 
Odo  cried  out,  "I  am  a  bishop  and  the  Lord's 
minister;  a  bishop  may  not  be  condemned  without 
the  judgment  of  the  Pope."  To  this  claim  of  epis- 

The  Last  Years  of  the  Conqueror   357 

copal  privilege  William  replied  that  he  arrested 
not  the  bishop  of  Bayeux,  but  the  earl  of  Kent, 
and  Odo  was  sent  off  straightway  in  custody  to 
the  Tower  of  Rouen.  At  a  later  date  it  was  sug- 
gested that  the  distinction  between  the  bishop's 
lay  and  spiritual  functions  was  suggested  to  the 
king  by  Lanfranc,1  whose  opinion  as  an  expert 
in  the  canon  law  was  incontrovertible;  and  apart 
from  the  dramatic  interest  of  the  scene  the  trial 
of  Odo  has  special  importance  as  one  of  the  few 
recorded  cases  in  which  a  question  of  clerical 
immunity  was  raised  before  the  promulgation 
of  the  Constitutions  of  Clarendon. 

The  one  extended  narrative  which  we  possess 
of  these  events  was  composed  some  forty  years 
after  the  date  in  question,  and  the  scheme  which 
is  attributed  to  Bishop  Odo  may  well  seem  too 
visionary  a  project  to  have  been  undertaken 
by  that  very  hard-headed  person,  yet  on  the 
whole  we  shall  probably  do  well  to  pay  respect 
to  Orderic's  version  of  the  incident.  For,  although 
the  militant  lord  of  Bayeux  might  seem  to  us  an 
incongruous  successor  for  the  saintly  Hildebrand, 
it  must  as  yet  have  been  uncertain  how  far  the 
church  as  a  whole  had  really  identified  itself  with 
the  ideals  which  found  their  greatest  exponent  in 
Gregory  VII.,  and  the  situation  in  Italy  itself 
was  such  as  to  invite  the  intervention  of  a  prelate 
capable  of  wielding  the  secular  arm.  The  struggle 
between  pope  and  emperor  was  at  its  height, 

*  William  of  MaJmesbuiy. 

358         William  the  Conqueror 

and  within  three  years  from  the  date  of  Odo's 
arrest  Hildebrand  himself  was  to  die  in  exile 
from  his  city,  while  Norman  influence  was  all- 
powerful  in  south  Italy.  The  tradition  repre- 
sented in  Orderic's  narrative  shows  an  apprecia- 
tion of  the  general  situation,  and  if  we  regard  the 
motive  assigned  for  Odo's  preparations  as  merely 
the  monastery  gossip  of  the  next  generation, 
yet  the  bishop's  imprisonment  is  a  certain  fact, 
and  the  unusual  bitterness  of  King  William  towards 
his  half-brother  would  suggest  that  something 
more  than  political  disloyalty  gave  point  to  the 
latter's  schemes.  Nevertheless  the  captivity  in 
which  Bishop  Odo  expiated  his  ambition  cannot 
have  been  enforced  with  very  great  severity, 
for  in  the  five  years  which  intervened  between 
his  disgrace  and  William's  death  he  appears  at 
least  occasionally  in  attendance  at  his  brother's 

The  circle  of  the  Conqueror's  immediate  com- 
panions was  rapidly  breaking  up  now.  On  No- 
vember 3rd,  1083,  Queen  Matilda  died,  and  was 
buried  in  the  convent  of  the  Holy  Trinity  at 
Caen,  which  she  had  founded  in  return  for  her 
lord's  safety  amid  the  perils  of  his  invasion  of 
England.  Archbishop  Lanfrajac  and  Earl  Roger  of 
Montgomery  almost  alone  represented  the  friends 
of  King  William's  early  manhood  at  the  coun- 
cils of  his  last  four  years.  Through  all  the 
hazards  of  her  married  life  Matilda  of  Flanders 
had  played  her  part  well;  if  William  the  Con- 

The  Last  Years  of  the  Conqueror   359 

queror  alone  among  all  the  men  of  his  house  kept 
his  sexual  purity  unstained  to  the  last,  something 
at  least  of  this  may  be  set  down  to  his  love  for  the 
bride  whom  he  had  won,  thirty  years  before,  in 
defiance  of  all  ecclesiastical  censure.  Nor  should 
Matilda's  excellence  be  conceived  of  as  lying 
wholly  in  the  domestic  sphere;  William  could 
leave  his  duchy  in  her  hands  when  he  set  out  to 
win  a  kingdom  for  himself  and  her,  and  William 
was  no  contemptible  judge  of  practical  ability  in 
others.  We  shall  hardly  find  in  all  English  medie- 
val history  another  queen  consort  who  takes  a  place 
at  once  more  prominent  and  more  honourable. 

In  the  year  following  Queen  Matilda's  death, 
the  Conqueror's  attention  was  for  the  last  time 
concentrated  on  the  affairs  of  Maine,  and  in  a 
manner  which  illustrates  the  uncertain  tenure  by 
which  the  Normans  still  held  their  southern 
dependency.  Twenty  years  of  Norman  rule  had 
failed  to  reconcile  the  Manceaux  to  the  alien 
government.  The  rising  of  1073  had  proved  the 
strength  and  extent  of  the  disaffection,  and  from 
the  events  of  the  present  year  it  is  plain  that  the 
Norman  element  in  Maine  was  no  more  than  a 
garrison  in  hostile  territory,  although  the  distur- 
bance which  called  William  into  the  field  in  1084 
was  merely  the  revolt  of  a  great  Mancel  baton 
fighting  for  his  own  hand,  which  should  not  be 
dignified  with  the  name  of  a  national  movement. 
In  the  centre  of  the  county  the  castle  of  Sainte- 
Suzanne  stands  on  a  high  rock  overlooking  the 

360         William  the  Conqueror 

river  Arne,  one  of  the  lesser  .tributaries  of  the 
Sarthe.  This  fortress,  together  with  the  castles 
of  Beaumont  and  Fresnay  on  the  greater  river,, 
belonged  to  Hubert  the  viscount  of  Maine,  who 
had  been  a  prominent  leader  of  the  Mancel 
nationalists  in  the  war  of  1063,  and  had  subse- 
quently married  a  niece  of  Duke  Robert  of  Bur- 
gundy. Formidable  alike  from  his  position  in 
Maine  'and  his  connection  with  the  Capetian 
house,-  Hubert  proved  himself  an  unruly  subject 
of  the  Norman  princeps  Cenomannorum  and 
after  sundry  acts  of  disaffection  he  broke  into 
open  revolt,  abandoned  his  castles  of  Fresnay 
and  Beaumont,  and  concentrated  his  forces  on 
the  height  of  Sainte-Suzanne.  Like  Robert  of 
Normandy  at  Gerberoi,  five  years  before,  Hubert 
made  his  castle  a  rendezvous  for  all  the  restless 
adventurers  of  the  French  kingdom,  who  soon 
became  intolerable  to  the  Norman  garrisons  in 
Le  Mans  and  its  neighbourhood.  The  latter, 
it  would  seem,  were  not  strong  enough  to  divide 
their  forces  for  an  attack  on  Sainte-Suzanne,  and 
sent  an  appeal  for  help  to  King  William,  who 
thereupon  gathered  an  army  in  Normandy,  and 
made  ready  for  his  last  invasion  of  Maine. 

But  for  once  in  his  life  the  Conqueror  found 
himself  confronted  by  an  irreducible  fortress. 
"He  did  not  venture  to  lay  siege  to  the  castle  of 
Sainte-Suzanne,"  says  Orderic, 

**it  being  rendered  impregnable  by  its  position  on 



>   IN    ISM.        A     COW  EXECUTED    IN    1708,   II    PRESERVES   IN    THE  SACRISTY    Of  ST. 


.  8  .Saaveur 



oCoutftoces  0Thoi1gny 


o  Harconrt  Tlinrj 


'  8. James  o 


c  Roche  JJabille 
o  Alenvou 



The  Last  Years  of  the  Conqueror 

rocks  and  the  dense  thickets  of  vineyards  which 
surrounded  it,  nor  could  he  confine  the  enemy  -within 
the  fortress  as  he  wished,  since  the  latter  was  strong 
enough  to  control  supplies  and  was  in  command 
of  the  communications.  The  king  therefore  built  a 
fortification  in  the  valley  of  Bonjen,  and  placed 
therein  a  strong  body  of  troops  to  repress  the  raids 
of  the  enemy,  being  himself  compelled  to  return  into 
Normandy  on  weighty  affairs."  l 

As  William  had  no  prospect  of  reducing  the  castle, 
either  by  storm  or  blockade,  he  was  well  advised 
to.  save  his  personal  prestige  by  retreat,  but  the 
garrison  of  his  counterwork  under  his  lieutenant 
Alan  Earl  of  Richmond  proved  themselves  unequal 
to  the  task  assigned  them.     For  three  years, 
according  to  Orderic,  the  operations  in  the  Arne 
valley  dragged  on,  and  the  fame  of  Hubert's  suc- 
cessful resistance  attracted  an  increasing  stream 
of  volunteers  from  remote  parts  of  France.    At 
last,  when  many  knights  of  fame  had  been  killed 
or  taken  prisoner,  the  disheartened  Normans  at 
Bonjen  resolved  to  bring  about  a  reconciliation 
between  the  king  and  the  viscount.     William 
was  in  England  at  the  time,  and  on  receiving 
details   of   the   Norman   losses   before   Sainte- 
Suzanne  he  showed  himself  willing  to  come  to 
terms  with  Hubert,  who  thereupon  crossed  the 
Channel  under  a  safe  conduct  and  was  restored 
to  favour  at  the  royal  court.2 

i  Ordericus  Vitalis,  iii.,  196. 

a  An  isolated  reference  to  the  siege  of  Saint-Suzanne 

362         William  the  Conqueror 

With,  this  failure  closes  the  record  of  the  Con- 
queror's achievements  in  Maine.  The  events  of 
the  next  ten  years  proved  that  the  triumph  of 
Hubert  of  Sainte-Suzanne  was  more  than  the 
accidental  success  of  a  rebellious  noble ;  a  national 
force  lay  behind  him  and  his  crew  of  adventurers, 
which  came  to  the  front  when  Helie  de  la  Fteche 
struggled  for  the  county  of  Maine  with  William 
Rufus.  In  the  process  which  during  the  next 
half-century  was  consolidating  the  feudal  world 
of  Prance,  Maine  could  not  persist  in  isolated 
independence,  but  its  final  absorption  into  Anjou 
was  less  repugnant  to  local  patriotism  and  the 
facts  of  geography  than  its  annexation  by  the 
lords  of  Rouen.  Those  who  have  a  taste  for  his- 
torical parallels  may  fairly  draw  one  between 
William's  wars  in  Maine  and  his  descendant 
Edward  L's  attack  on  the  autonomy  of  Scotland, 
with  reference  to  the  manner  in  which  an  initial 
success  was  reversed  after  the  death  of  the  great 
soldier  who  had  won  it,  by  the  irreconcilable 
determination  of  the  conquered  people.  But 
there  lies  a  problem  which  cannot  be  wholly 
answered  in  the  question  why  King  William's  work, 
so  permanent  in  the  case  of  England,  was  so 
soon  undone  in  the  case  of  the  kindred  land  of 

It  is  possible  that  the  Conqueror's  placabil- 

occurs  in  the  Domesday  of  Oxfordshire,  in  which  county 
the  manor  of  Ledhall  had  been  granted  to  Robert  d'Oilly, 
*'  apud  obsidionem  S.  Suzanne.'! 

The  Last  Years  of  the  Conqueror   363 

ity  toward  Hubert  of  Sainte-Suzanne  was  not 
unconnected   with   a   more   formidable   danger 
threatening  England  from  the  north  and  east* 
Once  more  the  Scandinavian  peril  hung  over  the 
land.     Harold  of  Denmark,  the  eldest  son  of 
Swegn  Estrithson,  had  died  in  1080,  and  his 
brother  and  successor  Cnut  married  the  daughter 
of  William's  inveterate  enemy,  Count  Robert  of 
Flanders.    In  this  way  a  family  alliance  between 
the  two  strongest  naval  powers  of  the  north  was 
called  into  being;  and  in  1085  the  king  and  the 
count  planned  a  joint  invasion  of  England.    Cnut 
attempted  to  draw  King  Olaf  of  Norway  into 
the  expedition,  and  received  from  him  a  contin- 
gent of  sixty  ships,  but  Olaf  would  not  join  in 
person,  giving  as  his  reason  that  the  kings  of 
Norway  had  always  been  less  successful  than  the 
kings  of  Denmark  in  enterprises  against  England, 
and  that  his  kingdom  had  not  yet  recovered 
from  the  disaster  of  I066.1    But  now,  as  in  the 
former  year,  England  had  no  fleet  available  for 
serious   naval  operations;  and  King  William's 
subjects  must  have  thought  that  his  defensive 
measures  were  as  ruinous  to  the  districts  affected 
as  the  passage  of  an  invading  army  itself.    The 
king  was  in  Normandy  when  he  became  apprised 
of  the  danger,  and  he  hastened  across  the  Channel, 
with  a  great  force  of  French  and  Breton  mer- 
cenaries,  "so  that  people  wondered  how  the 
land  could  feed  all  that  army,"  remarks  the 

i  Heimskringla,  iii.,  198- 

364         William  the  Conqueror 

Peterborough  chronicler.  The  king  arranged  for 
the  billeting  of  the  host  among  his  barons,  and 
then  proceeded  deliberately  to  lay  waste  the  parts 
of  the  country  exposed  to  attack;  a  precaution 
which  would  have  kept  the  enemy  from  advancing 
far  from  the  coast,  but  which  must  have  cruelly 
afflicted  the  poorer  folk 'of  the  eastern  shires.1 
Meanwhile  a  great  armament  from  Flanders  and 
Denmark  had  been  gathered  in  the  Lijm  fiord, 
and  all  was  ready  for  the  voyage  when  on  July 
10,  1086,  Cnut  was  murdered  in  the  church  of 
Odensee.2  His  death  meant  the  abandonment 
of  the  expedition,  but  is  probable  that  his  abortive 
schemes  contributed  to  one  of  the  most  notable 
events  of  William's  reign — the  oath  of  Salisbury 
of  1086. 

The  king  had  kept  the  feast  of  1086  at 
Winchester  and  had  knighted  his  youngest  son, 
Henry,  in  the  Whitsuntide  council  at  West- 
minster. Not  long  afterwards  he  turned  westward 
again,  and  by  the  first  of  August  had  come  to  Sal- 
isbury, where  he  held  an  assembly  of  very  excep- 
tional character.  "There  his  Witan  came  to  him," 
says  the  Anglo-Saxon  chronicler,  "and  all  the 
landholding  men  in  England,  no  matter  whose 
men  they  might  be,  and  swore  him  fealty  that  they 

*  The  severity  of  the  devastation  should  not  be  exaggerated, 
for  in  1086  Lincolnshire,  Norfolk,  and  Suffolk  were  the  most 
prosperous  parts  of  England. 

a  Cnut's  preparations  and  death  are  described  at  length 
in  his  life  by  Ethelnoth,  printed  in  the  Scriptores  Rerwm 

The  Last  Years  of  the  Conqueror   365 

would  be  true  to  him  against  all  men."  *  The 
native  chronicler  in  his  cell  at  Peterborough 
was  evidently  impressed  by  the  scale  of  all  the 
Conqueror's  measures  in  these  last  years,  and  his 
statement  that  all  the  land-holding  men  in  Eng- 
land came  to  the  Salisbury  meeting  must  not  be 
construed  too  literally,  but  he  has  seen  clearly 
enough  what  was  the  real  purpose  of  the  famous 
oath.  It  was  no  slight  matter  that  King  William 
was  strong  enough  to  exact  from  each  mesne  tenant 
in  his  kingdom  an  absolute  oath  of  allegiance  to 
himself  in  person,  without  explicit  reference  to 
the  tie  of  homage  which  bound  individual  tenants 
to  their  immediate  lords.  But,  significant  as  is 
this  dear  enunciation  of  the  principle  that  the 
king's  daim  to  fealty  overrides  the  lord's  claim 
to  service,  it  should  not  be  taken  to  imply  any 
revolutionary  change  in  the  current  doctrines 
of  feudal  law.  It  is  highly  probable  that  this 
general  oath  was  demanded  with  the  single 
purpose  of  providing  against  the  defection  of 
disloyal  knights  and  barons  to  Cnut  of  Denmark 
in  the  imminent  event  of  his  landing.  News 
travelled  slowly  in  the  eleventh  century,  and 
King  William  at  Salisbury  on  August  ist  could 
not  well  have  heard  of  the  murder  at  Odensee 
on  July  loth.  But  apart  from  this,  any  feudal 
monarch  could  have  maintained  in  theory  that 
the  facts  of  subinfeudation  should  not  invalidate 
his  sovereign  rights;  the  question  was  merely 

1  Peterborough  Chronicle ,  1086, 

366         William  the  Conqueror 

as  to  the  possibility  of  enforcing  the  latter.  The 
exceptional  power  enjoyed  by  William  and  his 
successors  in  this  respect  was  due  to  the  intimate 
relations  established  between  the  king  and  his 
feudatories  by  the  circumstances  of  the  Conquest; 
the  Oath  of  Salisbury  was  a  striking  incident  and 
little  more. 

It  was  probably  not  long  after  the  famous  scene 
at  Salisbury  that  the  Conqueror  crossed  the 
Channel  for  the  last  time.  No  chronicler  has 
recorded  the  name  of  the  port  which  witnessed 
King  William's  last  embarkation,  but  we  know 
that  he  called  at  the  Isle  of  Wight  on  his  way  to 
Normandy,  and  we  may  suppose  that  he  had 
set  sail  from  some  Hampshire  or  Sussex  haven. 
His  subjects  probably  rejoiced  at  his  departure, 
for  England  had  fallen  on  evil  times  in  these  last 
years.  The  summer  of  1086  had  been  disastrous 
for  a  population  never  living  far  from  the  margin 
of  subsistence.  "This  year  was  very  grievous," 
laments  the  native  chronicler,  "and  ruinous  and 
sorrowful  in  England  through  the  murrain;  corn 
and  fruit  could  not  be  gathered  and  one  cannot 
well  think  how  wretched  was  the  weather,  there 
was  such  dreadful  thunder  and  lightning,  which 
killed  many  men,  and  always  kept  growing  worse 
and  worse.  God  Almighty  amend  it  when  it 
please  him."  But  the  bad  harvest  brought  its 
inevitable  train  of  famine  and  pestilence,  and 
1087  was  worse  than  1086  had  been.  It  was  the 
agony  of  this  year  that  called  forth  the  famous 

The  Last  Years  of  the  Conqueror   367 

picture  of  the  Conqueror's  fiscal  exactions,  how 
the  miserly  king  leased  his  lands  at  the  highest 
rent  that  could  be  wrung  out  of  the  poor  men 
by  right  or  wrong;  how  his  servants  exacted 
unlawful  tolls.  Medieval  finance  was  not  elastic 
enough  to  adapt  itself  to  the  alternation  of  good 
and  bad  seasons;  and  in  a  time  of  distress  men 
were  crushed  to  the  earth  by  rents  and  taxes, 
which,  as  Domesday  Book  shows,  they  could 
afford  to  bear  well  enough  in  years  of  normal 
plenty.  The  monk  of  Peterborough  took  no  ac- 
count of  this,  and  yet  he  clearly  felt  .that  he  had 
reached  the  climax  of  disaster  as  he  recorded 
the  death  of  William  the  Conqueror. 

The  question  of  the  Vexin  Frangaise,  which, 
by  a  singular  chance,  was  to  cost  the  Conqueror 
his  life,  originated  in  the  days  of  Duke  Robert  of 
Normandy  and  Henry  I.  of  France.  We  .have 
seen  that  King  Henry,  in  return  for  help  given 
by  Robert  to  him  in  the  difficult  time  of  his  acces- 
sion, ceded  the  Vexin  Frangaise  to  the  Norman 
Duke.  Drogo,  the  reigning  count,  remained 
true  to  the  Norman  connection,  and  accompanied 
Duke  Robert  to  the  Holy  Land,  where  he  died; 
but  his  son  Walter  wished  to  detach  the  Vexin 
from  association  with  Normandy  and  to  replace 
himself  under  the  direct  sovereignty  of  the  king 
of  France.  He  proved  his  hostility  to  William 
of  Normandy  in  the  campaign  of  Mortemer,  and 
by  the  claims  which  he  raised  to  the  county  of 
Maine  in  1063,  but  he  died  without  issue,  and  his 

368         William  the  Conqueror 

possessions  passed  to  his  first  cousin,  Ralf  III., 
count  of  Valois.  The  house  of  Valois  was  not 
unfriendly  to  Normandy,  and  from  1063  to  1077 
its  powerful  possessions  were  a  standing  menace 
to  the  royal  demesne.  But  in  the  latter  year  the 
family  estates  were  broken  up  by  a  dramatic 
event.  Simon  de  Crepy,  the  son  of  Count  Ralf, 
who  had  successfully  maintained  his  'position 
against  Philip  I.,  felt  nevertheless  a  desire  to 
enter  the  religious  life,  and  on  his  wedding  night 
he  suddenly  announced  his  determination,  per- 
suaded his  young  bride  to  follow  his  example,  and 
retired  from  the  world.  Philip  I.  thereupon 
reunited  the  Vexin  to  the  royal  demesne  without 
opposition  from  William  of  Normandy,  who  was  at 
the  time  much  occupied  with  the  affairs  of  Maine.1 
For  ten  years  William  acquiesced  in  the  state  of 
affairs,  and  his  present  action  took  the  form  of 
a  reprisal  for  certain  raids  which  the  French- 
men in  Mantes  had  lately  been  making  across 
the  Norman  border.  It  would  clearly  have  been 
useless  to  expect  King  Philip  to  intervene,  and 
William  accordingly  raised  the  whole  Vexin  ques- 
tion once  more,  and  demanded  possession  of 
Pontoise,  Chaumont,  and  Mantes,  three  towns 
which  command  the  whole  province. 

It  does  not  seem  that  Philip  made  any  attempt 
to  defend  his  threatened  frontier,  and  he  is 
reported  to  have  treated  William's  threats  with 
contempt.  Thereupon,  the  Conqueror,  stung  by 

»  See  Flach,  Les  Origines  de  I'antienne  France,  531-534- 

The  Last  Years  of  the  Conqueror    369 

some  insult  which  passed  at  the  time,  suddenly 
threw  himself  with  a  Norman  force  across  the 
Epte,  and  harried  the  country  until  he  came  to 
Mantes  itself.  The  garrison  had  left  their  posts 
on  the  previous  day,  in  order  to  inspect  the  devas- 
tation which  the  Normans  had  wrought  in  the 
neighbourhood,  and  were  surprised  by  King 
William's  arrival.  Garrison  and  invaders  rushed 
in  together  headlong  through  the  gates  of  the 
city,  but  the  Normans  had  the  victory,  and 
Mantes  was  ruthlessly  burned.  And  then  King 
William,  while  riding  among  the  smouldering 
ruins  of  his  last  conquest,  in  some  way  not  quite 
clearly  known,  was  thrown  violently  upon  the 
pommel  of  his  saddle,  and  his  injury  lay  beyond 
the  resources  of  the  rough  surgery  of  the  eleventh 

Stricken  thus  with  a  mortal  blow,  King  William 
left  the  wasted  Vexin  for  his  capital  of  Rouen, 
and  for  six  weeks  of  a  burning  summer  his  great 
strength  struggled  with  the  pain  of  his  incurable 
hurt.  At  first  he  lay  within  the  city  of  Rouen 
itself,  but  as  the  days  passed  he  became  less 
able  to  bear  the  noise  of  the  busy  port,  and  he 
bade  his  attendants  carry  him  to  the  priory  of 
Saint-Gervase,  which  stands  on  a  hill  to  the 
west  of  the  town.  The  progress  of  his  sickness 
left  his  senses  unimpaired  to  the  last,  and  in  the 
quiet  priory  the  Conqueror  told  the  story  of  his 
life  to  his  sons  William  and  Henry,  his  friend  and 
physician  Gilbert  Maminot,  bishop  of  Lisieux, 

370         William  the  Conqueror 

Guntard,  abbot  of  Jumifeges,  and  a  few  others 
who  had  come  to  witness  the  end  of  their  lord. 
Two  independent  narratives  of  King  William's 
apologia  have  survived  to  our  day,  and,  although 
monastic  tradition  may  have  framed  the  tale 
somewhat  to  purposes  of  edification,  yet  we  can 
see  that  it  was  in  no  ignoble  spirit  that  the  Con- 
queror, under  the  shadow  of  imminent  death, 
reviewed  the  course  of  his  history.  He  called  to 
mind  with  satisfaction  his  constant  devotion 
and  service  to  Holy  Church,  his  patronage  of 
learned  men,  and  the  religious  houses  founded  un- 
der his  rule.  If  he  had  been  a  man  of  war  from 
his  youth  up  he  cast  the  blame  in  part  upon  the 
disloyal  kinsmen,  the  jealous  overlord,  the  aggres- 
sive rivals  who  had  beset  him  from  his  childhood, 
but  for  the  conquest  of  England,  in  this  his 
supreme  moment,  he  attempted  no  justification. 
In  his  pain  and  weariness,  the  fame  he  had  shed 
upon  the  Norman  race  paled  before  the  remem- 
brance of  the  slaughter  at  Hastings,  and  the 
harried  villages  of  Yorkshire.  No  prevision, 
indeed,  of  the  mighty  outcome  of  his  work  cotdd 
have  answered  the  Conqueror's  anxiety  for  the 
welfare  of  his  soul,  and  tinder  the  spur  of  ambi- 
tion he  had  taken  a  path  which  led  to  results  be- 
yond his  own  intention  and  understanding.  We 
need  not  believe  that  the  bishop  of  Lisieux  or  the 
abbot  of  Jumi&ges  have  tampered  with  William's 
words,  when  we  read  his  repentance  for  the  events 
which  have  given  him  his  place  in  history. 

The  Last  Years  of  the  Conqueror   371 

It  remained  for  the  Conqueror  to  dispose  of  his 
inheritance,  and  here  for  once  political  expediency 
had  to  yield  to  popular  sentiment.  We  cannot 
but  believe  that  the  Conqueror,  had  it  been  in 
his  power,  would  have  made  some  effort  to  pre- 
serve the  political  union  of  England  and  Nor- 
mandy. But  fate  had  struck  him  down  without 
warning,  and  ruled  that  his  work  should  be  undone 
for  a  while.  With  grim  forebodings  of  evil  William 
acknowledged  that  the  right  of  the  first-born,  and 
the  homage  done  by  the  Norman  barons  to 
Robert  more  than  twenty  years  before,  made  it 
impossible  to  disinherit  the  graceless  exile,  but 
England  at  least  should  pass  into  stronger  hands, 
William  Rufus  was  destined  to  a  brief  and  stormy 
tenure  of  his  island  realm,  but  its  bestowal  now 
was  the  reward  of  constant  faithfulness  and  good 
service  to  his  mighty  father.  To  the  English- 
born  Henry,  who  was  to  be  left  landless,  the  Con- 
queror bequeathed  five  thousand  pounds  of  silver 
from  his  treasury,  and,  in  answer  to  his  complaint 
that  wealth  to  him  would  be  useless  without 
land,  prophesied  the  future  reunion  of  the  Anglo- 
Norman  states  under  his  rule.  And  then,  while 
Henry  busied  himself  to  secure  and  weigh  his  treas- 
ure, the  Conqueror  gave  to  William  the  regalia  of 
the  English  monarchy,  and  sealed  a  letter  re- 
commending Tirm  to  Archbishop  Lanfranc  as  the 
future  king,  and  kissing  him  gave  him  his  blessing, 
and  directed  him  to  hasten  to  England  before 
men  there  knew  that  their  lord  was  dead. 

372          William  the 

In  his  few  remaining  hours  King  William  was 
inspired  by  the  priests  and  nobles  who  stood 
around  his  bed  to  make  reparation  to  certain  vic- 
tims of  his  policy,  who  still  survived  in  Norman 
prisons.  Among  those  who  were  now  released 
at  his  command  were  Wulfnoth,  Earl  Godwine's 
son,  and  Wulf  the  son  of  King  Harold;  the 
prisoners  of  Ely,  Earl  Morcar  and  Siward  Barn; 
Earl  Roger  of  Hereford,  and  a  certain  Englishman 
named  Algar.  Like  ghosts  from  another  world 
these  men  came  out  into  the  light  for  a  little 
time  before  they  vanished  finally  into  the  dun- 
geons of  William  Rufus;  but  there  was  one  state 
prisoner  whose  pardon,  extorted  reluctantly  from 
the  Conqueror,  was  not  reversed  by  his  successor. 
It  was  only  the  special  intercession  of  Count 
Robert  of  Mortain  which  procured  the  release 
of  his  brother,  Bishop  Odo.  The  bishop  had 
outdone  the  Conqueror  in  oppression  and  cruelty 
to  the  people  of  England,  and  regret  for  his  own 
sins  of  ambition  aiid  wrong  had  not  disposed  the 
king  for  leniency  towards  his  brother's  guilt 
in  this  regard.  At  length  in  sheer  weariness  he 
yielded  against  his  will,  foretelling  that  the 
release  of  Odo  would  bring  ruin  and  death  upon 

It  is  in  connection  with  Bishop  Odo's  liberation 
that  Orderic  relates  the  last  recorded  act  of  Wil- 
liam's life.  A  certain  knight  named  Baudri  de 
Guitry,  who  had  done  good  service  in  the  war  of 
Ssinte-Suzanne,  had  subsequently  offended  the 

The  Last  Years  of  the  Conqueror   373 

king  by  leaving  Normandy  without  his  license 
to  fight  against  the  Moors  in  Spain.  His  lands 
had  been  confiscated  in  consequence,  but  were 
now  restored  to  him,  William  remarking  that  he 
thought  no  braver  knight  existed  anywhere,  only 
he  was  extravagant  and  inconstant,  and  loved 
to  wander  in  foreign  countries.  Baudri  was  a 
neighbour  and  friend  to  the  monks  of  St.  Evroul, 
hence  no  doubt  the  interest  which  his  restoration 
possessed  for  Ordericus  Vitalis. 

In  the  final  stage  of  King  William's  sickness, 
the  extremity  of  his  pain  abated  somewhat,  and 
he  slept  peacefully  through  the  night  of  Wednesday 
the  8th  of  September.  As  dawn  was  breaking 
he  woke,  and  at  the  same  moment  the  great  bell 
of  Rouen  cathedral  rang  out  from  the  valley 
below  Saint-Gervase's  priory.  The  king  asked 
what  it  meant;  those  who  were  watching  by 
him  replied,  "My  lord,  the  bell  is  tolling  for 
primes  at  St.  Mary's  church."  Then  the  Con- 
queror, raising  his  hands,  exclaimed:  "To  Mary, 
the  holy  mother  of  God,  I  commend  myself, 
that  by  her  blessed  intercession  I  may  be  recon- 
ciled to  her  beloved  Son,  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ." 
The  next  instant  he  was  dead. 

For  dose  upon  six  weeks  the  king  had  lain 
helpless  in  his  chamber  in  the  priory,  but  death 
had  come  upon  him  suddenly  at  last,  and  the 
company  which  had  surrounded  him  instantly 
scattered  in  dismay.  Each  man  knew  that  for 
many  miles  around  Rouen  there  would  be  little 

374         William  the  Conqueror 

security  for  life  or  property  that  day,  and  the 
dead  king  was  left  at  the  mercy  of  his  own  servants, 
while  his  friends  rode  hard  to  reach  their  homes 
before  the  great  news  had  spread  from  the  city 
to  the  open  country.  By  the  time  that  the  clergy 
of  Rouen  had  roused  themselves  to  take  order 
how  their  lord  might  be  worthily  buried,  his 
body  had  been  stripped,  his  chamber  dismantled, 
and  his  attendants  were  dispersed,  securing  the 
plunder  which  they  had  taken.  The  archbishop 
of  Rouen  directed  that  the  king  should  be  carried 
to  the  church  of  his  own  foundation  at  Caen,  but 
no  man  of  rank  had  been  left  in  the  city,  and 
it  was  only  an  upland  knight,  named  Herlwin, 
who  accompanied  the  Conqueror  on  his  last 
progress  over  his  duchy.  By  river  and  road  the 
body  was  brought  to  Caen,  and  a  procession  of 
clergy  and  townsfolk  was  advancing  to  meet  it, 
when  suddenly  a  burst  of  flame  was  seen  arising 
from  the  town.  The  citizens,  who  knew  well 
what  this  meant  among  their  narrow  streets  and 
wooden  houses,  rushed  back  to  crush  the  fire, 
while  the  monks  of  Saint  Stephen's  received  the 
king's  body  and  brought  it  with  such  honour 
as  they  might  to  their  house  outside  the  walls. 

Shortly  afterwards,  the  Conqueror  was  buried 
in  the  presence  of  nearly  all  the  prelates  of  the 
Norman  church.  The  bishop  of  Evreux,  who 
had  watched  by  the  king's  death-bed,  preached, 
praising  him  for  the  renown  which  his  victories 
had  brought  upon  his  race,  and  for  the  strictness 


In  1087 


The  Last  Years  of  the  Conqueror   375 

of  his  justice  in  the  lands  over  which  he  ruled. 
But  a  strange  scene  then  interrupted  the  course 
of  the  ceremony.  A  certain  Ascelin,  the  son  of 
Arthur,  came  forward  and  loudly  declared  that 
the  place  in  which  the  grave  had  been  prepared 
had  been  the  court-yard  of  his  father's  house, 
unjustly  seized  by  the  dead  man  for  the  foundation 
of  his  abbey.  Ascelin  clamoured  for  restitution, 
and  the  bishops  and  other  magnates  drew  him 
apart,  and,  when  satisfied  that  his  claim  was 
just,  paid  him  sixty  shillings  for  the  ground  where 
the  grave  was.  And  then,  with  broken  rites,  the 
Conqueror  was  laid  between  the  choir  and  the 
altar  of  Saint  Stephen's  church. 

Denier  of  Philip  I.  of  France 



UP  to  the  present  we  have  only  dealt  with  the 
ecclesiastical  relations  of  William  the  Con- 
queror in  so  far  as  they  have  directly  affected 
political  issues.  But  the  subject  has  a  unity  of  its 
own,  quite  apart  from  its  bearing  upon  the  course 
of  war  or  diplomacy,  and  no  aspect  of  the  Con- 
queror's work  is  known  to  us  in  greater  detail. 
It  may  be  added  that  no  aspect  of  the  Conqueror's 
work  is  more  illustrative  of  the  general  character 
of  his  government,  nor  of  greater  significance 
for  the  future  history.  For  four  centuries  and  a 
half  the  development  of  the  church  in  England 
followed  the  lines  which  he  had  indicated.1 

But  the  church  in  Normandy  was  William's 
first  concern,  and  some  appreciation  of  his  work 
here  is  necessary  to  an  understanding  of  the 
tendencies  which  governed  his  ecclesiastical  policy 
in  England.  Broadly  stated,  William's  relations 
with  the  church  in  Normandy  and  England  alike 
were  governed  by  two  main  ideas.  He  was 
beyond  all  doubt  sincerely  anxious  for  the  reform 

*  The  ecclesiastical  history  of  Normandy  and  England  in 
the  eleventh  century  is  treated  by  Bohmer,  Kirche  und  Stoat 
in  England,  und  in  der  Normandie,  on  which  book  this 
chapter  is  based. 


William  and  the  Church         37? 

of  the  church,  as  he  would  have  understood  the 
phrase — the  extension  and  stricter  observance 
of  the  monastic  life,  the  improvement  of  the 
learning  and  morals  of  the  secular  clergy,  the 
development  of  a  specific  ecclesiastical  law.  But 
he  was  no  less  determined  that,  at  all  hazards, 
the  church  in  his  dominions  should  be  subor- 
dinate to  the  state,  and  his  enforcement  of  this 
principle  ultimately  threw  him  into  opposition  to 
the  very  party  in  the  church  which  was  most 
sympathetic  to  his  plans  of  ecclesiastical  reform. 
Between  Hildebrand  claiming  in  definite  words 
that  the  head  of  the  church  was  the  lord  of  the 
world,  and  William  asserting  in  unmistakable 
acts  that  the  king  of  England  was  over  all  persons 
in  all  causes,  as  well  ecclesiastical  as  temporal, 
through  his  dominions  supreme,  there  were  certain 
to  be  differences  of  opinion.  But  the  two  great 
men  kept  the  peace  for  a  surprising  length  of 
time,  and  it  was  not  until  ten  years  before  Wil- 
liam's death  that  serious  discord  arose  between 
him  and  the  Curia  in  regard  to  the  question  of 
church  government. 

In  this  matter,  indeed,  William  was  but  main- 
taining prerogatives  which  he  had  inherited 
from  his  predecessors,  and  which  were  simul- 
taneously being  vindicated  by  the  other  princes 
of  his  time.  We  have  already  remarked  on  the 
intimate  connection  of  church  and  state  which 
prevailed  in  Normandy  at  the  beginning  of  the 
eleventh  century,  in  relation  to  its  bearing  upon 

William  the  Conqueror1 

the  general  absolutism  enjoyed  by  the  duke. 
But  the  fact  has  a  wider  significance  as  governing 
the  whole  character  of  ecclesiastical  life  in  the 
duchy.  The  rights  of  patronage  which  the  duke 
possessed,  his  intervention  in  the  process  of 
ecclesiastical  legislation,  his  power  of  deposing 
prelates  who  had  fallen  under  his  displeasure, 
not  only  forbade  the  autonomy  of  the  church,  they 
made  its  spiritual  welfare  as  well  as  its  professional 
efficiency  essentially  dependent  upon  the  personal 
character  of  its  secular  head.  Under  these  con- 
ditions, there  was  scanty  room  for  the  growth 
of  ultramontane  ideas  among  the  Norman  clergy; 
and  such  influence  as  the  papacy  exercised  in 
Normandy  before  1066  at  least  was  due  much 
more  to  traditional  reverence  for  the  Holy  See, 
and  to  occasional  respect  for  the  character  of  its 
individual  occupants,  than  to  any  recognition 
of  the  legal  sovereignty  of  the  Pope  in  spiritual 
matters.  William  himself  in  the  matter  of  his 
marriage  had  defied  the  papacy,  and  the  denuncia- 
tions of  the  Curia  found  but  a  faint  response 
among  the  prelates  of  the  Norman  church. 

From  the  ultramontane  point  of  view  this 
dependence  of  the  church  upon  the  state  was  a 
gross  evil,  but  it  was  at  least  an  evil  which  pro- 
duced its  own  compensation  in  Normandy. 
The  chaos  which  had  attended  the  settlement 
of  the  Northmen  in  the  tenth  century  had  involved 
the  whole  ecclesiastical  organisation  of  the  land 
in  utter  ruin,  and  its  restoration  was  entirely 

William  and  the  Church 

due  to  the  initiative  taken  by  the  secular  power. 
The  successive  dukes  of  Normandy,  from  Richard 
I.  onward,  showed  astonishing  zeal  in  the  work 
of  ecclesiastical  reform.1  Their  zeal,  however, 
must  have  spent  itself  in  vain  if  their  success 
had  been  dependent  upon  the  co-operation  of 
the  Norman  clergy;  the  decay  of  the  church  in 
Normandy  had  gone  too  far  to  permit  of  its  being 
reformed  from  within.  The  reforming  energy 
which  makes  the  eleventh  century  a  brilliant 
period  in  French  ecclesiastical  history  was  con- 
centrated at  this  time  in  the  great  abbeys  of 
Flanders  and  Burgundy,  whose  inmates,  however, 
were  fully  competent,  and  for  the  most  part 
willing,  to  undertake  the  restoration  of  ecclesiasti- 
cal order  in  Normandy.  From  this  quarter,  and 
in  particular  from  the  abbey  of  Cluny,  monks 
were  imported  into  the  duchy  by  Dukes  Richard 
I.  and  II.,  and  under  their  guidance  the  reform 
of  the  Norman  church  was  undertaken  according 
to  the  highest  monastic  ideal  of  the  time.  Very 
gradually,  but  with  ever  increasing  strength, 
the  influence  of  the  foreign  reformers  gained  more 
and  more  control  over  every  rank  in  the  Nonnan 
hierarchy.  The  higher  clergy,  who  at  first  resisted 
the  movement,  became  transformed  into  its 
champions  as  the  result  of  the  judicious  appoint- 
ments made  by  successive  dukes.  Even  the  upland 
clergy,  whose  invincible  ignorance  had  aroused 
the  anger  of  the  earliest  reformers,  were  attracted 
lSee  above.  Introduction,  ii.,  pp.  39,  40. 

380         William  the  Conqueror 

within  the  scope  of  the  reform,  partly  by  means 
of  the  affiliation  of  village  churches  to  monas- 
teries, but  above  all  through  the  educational 
work  performed  by  the  schools  which  were  among 
the  first  fruits  of  the  monastic  revival. 

If  the  foundation  of  new  monasteries  may  be 
taken  as  evidence,  the  process  of  expansion  and 
reform  went  on  unchecked  throughout  the  stormy 
minority  of  William  the  Conqueror.  A  period  of 
feudal  anarchy  was  not  necessarily  inimical  to 
the  ultimate  interests  of  the  church.  Amid  the 
disorder  and  oppression  of  secular  life  the  church 
might  still  display  the  example  of  a  society 
founded  on  law  and  discipline,  it  might  in  num- 
berless individual  cases  protect  the  weak  from 
gratuitous  injury,  and  it  certainly  might  hope  to 
emerge  from  the  chaos  with  wider  influence  and 
augmented  revenues.  The  average  baron  was 
very  willing  to  atone  for  his  misdeeds  by  the 
foundation  of  a  new  religious  house,  or  by  bene- 
factions to  an  old  one,  and  the  immortal  church 
had  time  on  its  side.  In  Normandy,  at  least,  the. 
disorder  of  William's  minority  coincided  with 
the  foundation  of  new  monasteries  in  almost 
every  diocese  in  the  Norman  church;  and  the 
promulgation  of  the  Truce  of  God  in  1042  gave  a 
wide  extension  to  the  competence  of  ecclesiastical 
jurisdiction  in  relation  to  secular  affairs. 

With  William's  victory  at  Val-es-dunes,  the 
crisis  was  over,  and  for  the  next  forty  years  the 
Norman  church  sailed  in  smooth  waters.  Auto- 

William  and  the  Church         381 

cratic  as  was  William  by  temperament,  nothing 
contributed  more  greatly  to  his  success  than  his 
singular  wisdom  in  the  choice  of  his  ministers  in 
church  and  state,  and  his  power  of  attaching 
them  to  his  service  by  ties  of  personal  friendship 
to  himself.  The  relations  between  William  and 
Lanfranc  form  perhaps  the  greatest  case  in  point, 
but  there  were  other  and  less  famous  members  of  the 
Norman  hierarchy  who  stood  on  terms  of  personal 
intimacy  with  their  master.  And  William  was 
cosmopolitan  in  his  sympathies.  Men  of  learning 
and  piety  from  every  part  of  Christendom  were 
entrusted  by  him  with  responsible  positions  in  the 
Norman  church;  in  1066  nearly  all  the  greater 
abbeys  of  Normandy  were  ruled  by  foreign  monks. 
Cosmopolitanism  was  the  chief  note  of  medieval 
culture,  and  under  these  influences  a  real  revival  of 
learning  may  be  traced  in  Normandy.  It  is  well 
for  William's  memory  that  this  was  so;  but  for 
the  work  of  William  of  Poitiers  and  William  of 
Jumteges,  two  typical  representatives  of  the  new 
learning,  posterity  would  have  remained  in 
blank  ignorance  of  the  Conqueror's  rule  in  Nor- 
mandy. But  it  is  a  matter  of  still  greater  impor- 
tance that  in  this  way  Normandy  was  gradually 
becoming  prepared  to  be  the  educator  of  England, 
as  well  as  her  conqueror.  The  surviving  relics 
of  the  literary  activity  at  this  time  of  Normandy 
— mass  books,  theological  treatises,  and  books  of 
miracles,  which  it  produced — have  but  little  in- 
terest for  the  general  student  of  history,  but  the 

382         William  the  Conqueror 

important  point  is  that  they  are  symptoms  of  an 
intellectual  life  manifesting  itself  with  vigour 
in  the  only  directions  which  were  possible  to  it  in 
the  early  eleventh  century.  Not  until  it  had  been 
transplanted  to  the  conquered  soil  of  England 
did  this  intellectual  life  produce  its  greatest 
result,  the  philosophical  history  of  William  of 
Malmesbury,  the  logical  narrative  of  Eadmer, 
to  name  only  two  of  its  manifestations;  but  in 
matters  of  culture,  as  well  as  in  matters  of  policy 
and  war,  the  Norman  race  was  unconsciously 
equipping  itself  in  these  years  for  its  later  achieve- 
ment across  the  Channel. 

It  cannot  be  denied  that  the  English  church 
stood  in  sore  need  of  some  such  external  influence. 
The  curious  blight  which  seemed  to  have  settled 
on  the  secular  government  of  England  affected  its 
religious  organisation  also.  The  English  church 
had  never  really  recovered  from  the  Danish  wars 
of  Alfred's  time.  It  had  been  galvanised  into 
fresh  activity  by  the  efforts  of  Dunstan  and  his 
fellow-reformers  of  the  tenth  century,  but  the 
energy  they  had  infused  scarcely  outlasted  their 
own  lives,  and  in  1066  the  church  in  England 
compares  very  unfavourably  with  the  churches 
of  the  continent  in  all  respects.  It  had  become 
provincial  where  they  were  catholic;  its  culture 
was  a  feeble  echo  of  the  culture  of  the  eighth  cen- 
tury, they  were  striking  out  new  methods  of 
inquiry  into  the  mysteries  of  the  faith;  it  was 
becoming  more  aad  more  closely  assimilated  to 

P.?!.]        ^O'&ttritfxwicif 







William  and  the  Church        383 

the  state,  they  were  struggling  to  emancipate 
themselves  from  secular  control.  There  was 
ample  scope  in  England  for  the  work  of  a  great 
ecclesiastical  reformer,  but  the  increasing  secular- 
isation of  the  leaders  of  the  church  rendered  it 
unlikely  that  he  would  come  from  within. 

Even  in  1066  the  English  church  still  retained 
distinct  features  of  the  tribal  organisation  which 
it  had  inherited  from  the  century  of  the  conver- 
sion. Its  dioceses  in  general  represented  Hep- 
tarchic  kingdoms,  and  the  uncertainty  of  their 
boundaries  is  here  and  there  definitely  traceable 
to  the  uncertain  limits  of  the  primitive  tribes  of 
which  they  were  the  ecclesiastical  equivalents. 
The  residences  of  half  the  English  bishops  of 
the  eleventh  century  were  still  fixed,  like  those 
of  their  seventh-century  predecessors,  in  remote 
villages;  "places  of  retirement  rather  than  cen- 
tres of  activity,"  as  they  have  well  been  called. 
The  number  of  dioceses  was  very  small  in  pro- 
portion to  the  population  and  area  of  the 
land,  and  it  tended  to  decrease;  Edward  the 
Confessor  had  recently  united  the  sees  of 
Cornwall  and  Devon,  under  the  single  bishop  of 
Exeter.  Within  his  diocese  each  bishop  enjoyed 
an  independence  of  krchiepiscopal  supervision, 
the  like  of  which  was  unknown  to  his  continental 
fellows;  the  canonical  authority  of  the  arch- 
bishops was  in  abeyance,  and  in  1070  it  was  still 
an  open  question  whether  the  sees  of  Dorchester, 
Lichfield,  and  Worcester,  which  represented  nearly 

384         William  the  Conqueror 

a  third  of  England,  belonged  to  the  province  of 
Canterbury  or  of  York.  The  smaller  territorial 
units  of  ecclesiastical  government,  the  archdea- 
conry and  rural  deanery,  are  hardly  to  be  traced 
in  England  before  the  Conquest,  and  the  chapters 
in  the  several  dioceses  varied  indefinitely  in 
point  of  organisation. 

It  was  not  necessarily  an  abuse  that  the  right 
of  making  appointments  to  the  higher  ecclesiasti- 
cal offices  belonged  in  England  to  the  king  and 
the  Witanagemot;  it  was  another  matter  that  the 
leaders  of  the  church  were  becoming  more  and 
more  absorbed  in  secular  business.  A  repre- 
sentative bishop  of  King  Edward's  day  would  be  a 
vigorous  politician  and  ra^n  of  affairs.  Ealdred, 
archbishop  of  York,  was  sent  by  the  king  into 
Germany  to  negotiate  for  the  return  of  Edgar 
the  Etheling;  Lyfing  of  Worcester  earned  the 
title  of  the  "eloquent"  through  the  part  he  played 
in  the  debates  of  the  Witanagemot;  Leofgar  of 
Hereford,  a  militant  person  who  caused  grave 
scandal  by  continuing  to  wear  his  moustaches 
after  his  ordination,  conducted  campaigns  against 
the  Welsh.  In  Normandy,  this  type  of  prelate 
was  rapidly  becoming  extinct;  Odo  of  Bayeux 
and  Geoffrey  of  Coutances  stand  out  glaringly 
among  their  colleagues  in  1066;  but  in  England 
the  circumstances  of  the  time  demanded  the 
increasing  participation  of  the  higher  clergy  in 
state  affairs.  The  rivalry  of  the  great  earls  at 
Edward's  court  produced,  as  it  were,  a  barbarous 

William  and  the  Church         385 

anticipation  of  party  government,  and  during  the 
long  ascendancy  of  the  house  of  Godwine,  ecclesi- 
astical dignities  were  naturally  bestowed  on  men 
who  could  make  themselves  politically  useful  to 
their  patron.  Curiously  enough,  the  one  force 
which  operated  to  check  the  secularisation  of  the 
English  episcopate  was  the  personal  character 
of  King  Edward.  His  foreign  tendencies  found 
full  play  here,  and  the  alien  clerks  of  his  chapel 
whom  he  appointed  to  bishoprics  came  to  form 
a  distinct  group,  to  which  may  be  traced  the 
beginnings  of  ecclesiastical  reform  in  England. 
For  a  short  time  the  highest  office  in  the  English 
church  was  held,  in  the  person  of  the  unlucky 
Robert  of  Jumi&ges,  by  a  Norman  monk  in  dose 
touch  with  the  Cluniac  school  of  ecclesiastical 
reformers,  who  seems  to  have  tried,  during  his 
brief  period  of  rule,  to  raise  the  standard  of 
learning  among  the  clergy  of  his  diocese.  Robert 
fell  before  he  could  do  much  in  this  direction, 
but  the  foreign  influences  which  were  beginning 
to  play  upon  the  English  church  did  not  cease 
with  his  expulsion.  Here  and  there,  during 
Edward's  later  years,  native  prelates  were  to  be 
found  who  recognised  that  much  was  amiss  with 
the  church,  and  followed  foreign  models  in  their 
attempts  at  reform;  Ealdred  of  York  tried  to 
impose  the  strict  rule  of  Chrodegang  of  Metz 
upon  his  canons  of  York,  Ripon,  Beverley,  and 
Southwell,  the  four  greatest  churches  of  Northern 
England.  But  individual  bishops  could  not  go 

386          William  the  Conqueror 

far  enough  in  the  work  of  reform,  and  their 
efforts  seem  to  have  met  with  little  sympathy 
from  the  majority  of  their  colleagues. 

To  a  foreign  observer,  nothing  in  the  English 
church  would  seem  more  anomalous  than  the 
character  of  its  ecclesiastical  jurisdiction.  There 
existed,  indeed,  in  the  law  books  of  successive 
kings,  a  vast  mass  of  ecclesiastical  law;  it  was 
in  the  administration  of  this  law  that  England 
parted  company  with  continental  usage.  In  Eng- 
land the  bishop  with  the  earl  presided  over  the 
assembly  of  thegns,  freemen,  and  priests  which 
constituted  the  shire  court,  and  the  local  courts 
of  shire  and  hundred  had  a  wide  competence 
over  matters  which,  on  the  continent,  would 
have  been  referred  to  a  specifically  ecclesiastical 
tribunal.  The  bishop  seems  to  have  possessed 
an  exclusive  jurisdiction  over  the  professional 
misdoings  of  his  clergy,  and  the  degradation  of  a 
criminous  clerk,  the  necessary  preliminary  to  his 
punishment  by  the  lay  authority,  was  pro- 
nounced by  clerical  judges,  but  all  other  matters 
of  ecclesiastical  interest  fell  within  the  province 
of  the  local  assemblies  Ecclesiastical  and  sec- 
ular laws  were  promulgated  by  the  same  authority 
and  administered  by  the  same  courts,  nor  does 
the  church  as  a  whole  seem  to  have  possessed 
any  organ  by  means  of  which  collective  opinion 
might  be  given  upon  matters  of  general  import- 
ance. No  great  councils  of  the  church,  such 
as  those  of  which  Bede  tells  us,  can  be  traced  in 

William  and  the  Church         387 

the  Confessor's  reign,  nor,  indeed,  for  nearly  two 
centuries  before  his  accession.  The  church  coun- 
cil had  been  absorbed  by  the  Witanagemot. 

To  all  the  greater  movements  which  were  agitat- 
ing the  religious  life  of  the  continent  in  the  eleventh 
century — the  Cluniac  revival,  the  hierarchical 
claims  of  the  papacy — the  English  church  as  a 
whole  remained  serenely  oblivious.  Its  relations 
with  the  papacy  were  naturally  very  intermittent, 
and  when  a  native  prelate  visited  the  Holy  See, 
he  might  expect  to  hear  strong  words  about 
plurality  and  simony  from  the  Pope.  With 
Stigand  the  papacy  could  hold  no  intercourse, 
but,  .despite  all  the  fulminations  of  successive 
Popes,  Stigand  continued  for  eighteen  years  to 
draw  the  revenues  of  his  sees  of  Canterbury  and 
Winchester,  and  other  prelates  rivalled  him  in 
his  offences  of  plurality,  whatever  scruples  they 
might  feel  about  his  canonical  position  as  arch- 
bishop. Ealdred  of  York  had  once  ad-ministered 
three  bishoprics  and  an  abbey  at  the  same  time. 
The  ecclesiastical  misdemeanours  of  a  party  among 
the  higher  clergy  would  have  been  a  minor  evilf 
had  it  not  coincided  with  the  general  abeyance 
of  learning  and  efficiency  among  their  subordi- 
nates. We  know  very  little  about  the  parish 
priest  of  the  Confessor's  day,  but  what  is  known 
does  not  dispose  us  to  regard  him  as  an  instrument 
of  much  value  for  the  civilisation  of  his  neigh- 
bours. In  the  great  majority  of  cases,  he  seems 
to  have  been  a  rustic,  married  like  his  parishion- 

388         William  the  Conqueror 

ers,  joining  with  them  in  the  agricultural  work 
of  the  village,  and  differing  from  them  only  in  the 
fact  of  his  ordination,  and  in  possessing  such  a 
knowledge  of  the  rudiments  of  Latin  as  would 
enable  him  to  recite  the  services  of  the  church. 
The  energy  with  which  the  bishops  who  followed 
the  Conquest  laboured  for  the  elevation  of  the 
lower  clergy  is  sufficiently  significant  of  what 
their  former  condition  must  have  been.  The 
measures  which  were  taken  to  this  end  by  the 
foreign  reformers — the  general  enforcement  of 
celibacy,  for  example — may  not  commend  them- 
selves to  modern  opinion,  but  Lanfranc  and  his 
colleagues  knew  where  the  root  of  the  matter 
lay.  It  was  only  by  making  the  church  distinct 
from  the  state,  by  making  the  parish  priest  a 
being  separated  by  the  clearest  distinctions  from 
his  lay  brother,  that  the  church  could  begin  to 
exercise  its  rightful  influence  upon  the  secular  life 
of  the  nation. 

Political  circumstances  delayed  the  beginnings 
of  ecclesiastical  reform  for  more  than  three  years 
after  the  battle  of  Hastings  had  placed  the  des- 
tinies of  the  English  church  in  Norman  hands. 
While  the  Conqueror  was  fighting  at  Stafford  and 
York,  he  could  not  be  presiding  over  synods  at 
Winchester  and  London.  No  steps,  therefore, 
were  taken  in  this  question  before  1070,  when  the 
fall  of  Chester  destroyed  the  last  chance  of  a  suc- 
cessful English  rising,  and  made  it  no  longer  ex- 
pedient for  William  to  be  complaisant  to  Stigand 

William  and  the  Church         389 

and  the  nationalist  party  in  the  English  episcopate. 
But  in  1070  the  work  was  begun  in  earnest  under 
the  immediate  sanction  of  the  Pope,  expressed  in 
the  legation  of  two  cardinal  priests  who  visited 
England  in  that  year.  There  could  be  little  doubt 
what  their  first  step  would  be;  and  when  Stigand 
was  formally  arraigned  for  holding  the  sees  of 
Winchester  and  Canterbury  in  plurality,  usurping 
the  pallium  of  his  predecessor,  Robert,  and  receiv- 
ing his  own  pallium  from  the  schismatic  Benedict 
X.,  he  had  no  defence  to  offer  beyond  declamation 
against  the  good  faith  of  the  king.  Three  other 
bishops  fell  at  or  about  the  same  time;  Ethel- 
mer,  brother  of  Stigand,  and  bishop  of  East 
Anglia,  Ethelwine,  bishop  of  Durham,  and  Ethel- 
ric,  bishop  of  Selsey.  In  regard  to  none  of  these 
last  bishops  are  the  grounds  on  which  their  deposi- 
tion was  based  at  all  certain;  and  in  the  case  of 
Ethelric,  an  aged  man  who  was  famed  for  his  vast 
knowledge  of  Anglo-Saxon  law,  the  Pope  himself 
was  uneasy  about  the  point,  and  a  correspondence 
went  on  for  some  time  between  him  and  Lanfranc 
on  the  subject.  But  it  is  a  noteworthy  fact  that 
these  four  prelates  are  the  only  bishops  deposed 
during  the  whole  of  the  Conqueror's  reign.  Noth- 
ing was  further  from  William's  purpose  than  any 
wholesale  clearance  of  the  native  episcopate.  He 
was  King  Edward's  heir,  and  he  wished,  therefore, 
to  retain  King  Edward's  bishops  in  office,  so  far 
as  this  was  consistent  with  the  designs  of  his 
ally  the  Pope.  On  the  other  hand,  William  was 

39°         William  the  Conqueror 

no  less  determined  to  fill  all  vacancies  when  they 
occurred  in  the  course  of  nature  with  continen- 
tal priests.  Herein  he  and  the  Pope  were  in 
complete  harmony.  It  was  only  by  this  means 
that  continental  culture  and  ideas  of  church 
government  could  be  introduced  into  England, 
and  William  trusted  in  his  own  strength  to  repress 
any  inconvenient  tendencies  which  might  arise 
from  the  ultramontane  ideals  of  his  nominees. 

The  deposition  of  Stigand  meant  the  elevation 
of  Lanfranc  to  the  archbishopric  of  Canterbury. 
It  is.  probable  that  the  Pope  would  have  preferred 
to  attach  "him  to  the  College  of  Cardinals,  but 
William,  was  determined  to  place  his  old  friend 
at  the  head  of  the  English  church,  and  Alexander 
II.  gave  way.  York,  vacant  through  the  death  of 
Ealdred  in  1069,  was  given  to  Thomas,  treasurer  of 
Bayeux,  prot6g6  of  Odo,  bishop  of  that  see, 
and  a  man  of  vast  and  cosmopolitan  learning. 
Almost  immediately  after  his  appointment  a 
fierce  dispute  broke  out  between  him  and  Lan- 
franc. The  dispute  in  question  was  twofold — 
partly  referring  to  the  boundaries  of  the  two 
provinces,  but  also  raising  the  more  important 
question  whether  the  two  English  archbishops 
should  possess  co-ordinate  rank  or  whether  the 
archbishop  of  York  should  be  compelled  to  take 
an  oath  of  obedience  to  the  primate  of  Canter- 
bury. In  a  council  held  at  Winchester  in  1072 
both  questions  were  settled  in  favour  of  Canter- 
bury. The  dioceses  of  Lichfield,  Worcester,  and 

William  and  the  Church         391 

Dorchester  were  assigned  to  the  latter  provinces, 
and  Lanfranc — partly  by  arousing  William's 
fears  as  to  the  political  inexpediency  of  an  inde- 
pendent archbishop  of  York,  partly  by  the 
skilful  forgery  of  relevant  documents — brought 
it  about  that  the  northern  archbishopric  was 
formally  declared  subordinate  to  that  of  Canter- 
bury. In  ecclesiastical,  as  well  as  secular  matters, 
William  had  small  respect  for  the  particularism 
of  Northumbria. 

The  council  which  decided  this  matter  was 
only  one  of  a  series  of  similar  assemblies  convened 
during  the  archiepiscopate  of  Lanfranc.  The 
first  of  the  series  had  already  been  held  in  1070, 
when  Wulfstan,  the  unlearned  but  saintly  bishop 
of  Worcester,  was  arraigned  pro  defects  scientia. 
He  was  saved  from  imminent  deposition  partly 
by  his  piety,  partly  by  his  frank  and  early  ac- 
ceptance of  the  Norman  rule;  and  he  retained  his 
see  until  his  death  in  1094.  In  1075  the  third 
council  of  the  series  proceeded  to  deal  with  one  of 
the  greatest  anomalies  presented  by  the  English 
church,  and  raised  the  whole  question  of  episcopal 
residence.  In  accordance  with  its  decrees,  the 
see  of  Lichfield  was  translated  to  Chester,  that 
of  Selsey  to  Chichester,  and  that  of  Sherborne  to 
Old  Salisbury.  Shortly  afterwards,  the  seat  of  the 
east  midland  diocese  of  Dorchester  was  transferred 
to  Lincoln ;  and  in  1078  Bishop  Herbert  of  Elmham, 
after  an  abortive  attempt  to  gain  possession  of 
Bury  St.  Edmund's,  removed  his  residence  to 

392          William  the  Conqueror 

Thetford,  the  second  town  in  Norfolk.  In  all 
these  changes  the  attempt  was  made  to  follow  the 
continental  practice  by  which  a  bishop  would 
normally  reside  in  the  chief  town  of  his  diocese. 
But  new  episcopal  seats  implied  new  cathedral 
churches,  and  the  Conqueror's  reign  witnessed  a 
notable  augmentation  of  church  revenues,1  ex- 
pressed in  grants  of  land,  the  extent  of  which  can 
be  ascertained  from  the  evidence  of  Domesday 
Book.  Here  and  there  are  traces  of  a  reorgan- 
isation of  church  property,  and  of  its  appropriation 
to  special  purposes;  all  of  which  enabled  the 
new  bishops  to  support  the  strain  incurred  by 
their  great  building  activities.  By  1087  new 
cathedrals  had  been  begun  in  seven  out  of  fifteen 

The  church  councils  which  supplied  the  means 
through  which  the  king  and  primate  carried  their 
ideas  of  ecclesiastical  reform  into  effect  were 
bodies  of  a  somewhat  anomalous  constitution. 
In  the  Confessor's  day  the  Witanagemot  had 
treated  indifferently  of  sacred  and  secular  law, 
but  its  competence  in  religious  matters  did  not 
descend  unbroken  to  its  feudal  representative, 
the  Commune  Concilium.  In  the  Conqueror's 
reign  the  church  council  is  becoming  differen- 
tiated from  the  assembly  of  lay  barons,,  but  the 
process  is  not  yet  complete.  The  session  of  the 
church  council  would  normally  coincide  in  point 
of  place  and  time  with  a  meeting  of  the  Commune 

i  Especially  in  the  Danelaw,  V.  C.  H.f  Derby  i.,  Leicester  i. 

William  and  the  Church         393 

Concilium;  no  ecclesiastical  decree  was  valid  until 
it  had  received  the  king's  sanction,  and  the  king 
and  his  lay  barons  joined  the  assembly,  although 
they  took  no  active  part  in  its  deliberations.  There 
was,  indeed,  small  necessity  for  their  presence, 
and  in  two  of  the  more  important  councils  of 
William's  reign,  at  London  in  1075  and  at  Glou- 
cester in  1085  the  spiritualty  held  a  session  of 
their  own  apart  from  the  meeting  of  the  Com- 
mune Concilium.  In  any  case  the  spiritual  de- 
crees were  promulgated  upon  the  authority  of 
the  archbishop  and  prelates,  although  the  royal 
word  was  necessary  for  their  reception  as  law. 

No  piece  of  ecclesiastical  legislation  passed 
during  this  time  had  wider  consequences  than 
the  famous  decree  which  limited  the  competence 
of  the  shire  and  hundred  courts  in  regard  to 
matters  pertaining  to  religion.1  This  law  has 
only  come  down  to  us  in  the  form  of  a  royal  writ 
addressed  to  the  officers  and  men  of  the  shire 
court,  so  that  its  exact  date  is  uncertain.  But 
intrinsically  it  is  likely  enough  that  the  question 
of  ecclesiastical  jurisdiction  would  be  one  of  the 
first  matters  to  which  William  and  Lanfranc 
would  turn  their  hands,  and  the  principle  implied 
in  the  writ  had  already  been  recognised  by  all 
the  states  of  the  continent.  According  to  this 
document  no  person  of  ecclesiastical  status  might 
be  tried  before  the  hundred  court,  nor  might 

*  Stubbs,  Select  Charters,  85.  The  writ  in  question  probably 
belongs  to  the  year  1075. 

394         William  the  Conqueror 

this  assembly  any  longer  possess  jurisdiction 
over  cases  involving  questions  of  spiritual  law, 
even  when  laymen  were  the  parties  concerned. 
All  these  matters  were  reserved  to  the,  exclusive 
jurisdiction  of  the  bishops  and  their  archdeacons, 
and  in  this  way  room  was  prepared  in  England  for 
the  reception  of  the  canon  law  of  the  church.1 
Important  as  it  was  for  the  subsequent  fortunes 
of  the  church,  this  decree  was  perhaps  of  even 
greater  importance  for  its  influence  upon  the 
development  of  secular  law.  The  canons  of  the 
church,  in  the  shape  which  they  assumed  at 
the  hands  of  Gratian  in  the  next  generation, 
were  to  set  before  lay  legislators  the  example  of 
a  codified  body  -of  law,  aiming  at  logical  con- 
sistency and  inherent  reason;  a  body  very  differ- 
ent from  the  collection  of  isolated  enactments 
which  the  English  church  of  the  eleventh  century 
inherited  from  the  Witanagemots  of  Alfred  and 
Edgar.  We  cannot  here  trace  the  way  in  which 
the  efforts  of  the  great  doctors  of  the  canon  law 
were  to  react  upon  the  work  of  their  secular  con- 
temporaries; but  the  fact  of  such  influence  is 
certain,  and  the  next  century  witnessed  its  abun- 
dant manifestation. 

The  transference  of  ecclesiastical  causes  from 
the  sphere  of  the  folk  law  to  that  of  the  canons 
of  the  church  meant  that  the  Pope  would  in  time 
acquire,  in  fact,  what  no  doubt  he  would  already 
claim  in  theory — the  legal  sovereignty  of  the 

*  Pollock  and  Maitland,  i.,  89. 

William  and  the  Church         395 

church  in  England.   That  William  recognised  this 
is  certain,  and  he  was  determined  that  the  fact 
should  in  no  way  invalidate  the  ecclesiastical 
prerogatives  which  he  already  enjoyed  in  Nor- 
mandy, and  which  in  regard  to  England  he  claimed 
as  King  Edward's  heir.   Contemporary  churchmen 
say  this  too,  and  the  key  to  William's  relations 
with  the  Pope  is  given  in  the  three  resolutions 
which  Eadmer  in  the  next  generation  ascribes 
to  him.   No  Pope  should  be  recognised  in  England, 
no  papal  letters  should  be  received,  and  no  tenant- 
in-chief  excommunicated  without  his  consent.    In 
short,  William  was  prepared  to  make  concessions 
to  the  ecclesiastical  ideas  of  his  clerical  friends 
only  in  so  fax  as  they  might  tend  to  the  more 
efficient  discharge  by  the  church  of  its  spiritual 
function.     This  was,  of  course,  a  compromise, 
and  no  very  satisfactory  one;  it  led  immediately 
to  strained  relations  between  William  himself 
and  Hildebrand,  it  was  the  direct  cause  of  the 
quarrel  between  William  Rufus  and  Anselm,  and 
it   was   indirectly   responsible    for   the   greater 
struggle  which  raged  between  Henry  of  Anjou 
and  Becket.    On  one  point,  however,  king  and 
papacy  were  in  perfect  accord,  and  it  was  this  fact 
which  prevented  their  difference  of  opinion  upon 
higher  matters  of  ecclesiastical  policy  from  becom- 
ing acute  during  the  Conqueror's  lifetime.    Both 
parties  were  agreed  upon  the  imperative  necessity 
of  reforming  the  mass  of  the  English  clergy  in 
morals  and  learning,  and    here   at    least   the 

396         William  the  Conqueror 

Conqueror's  work  was  permanent  and  consonant 
with  the  strictest  ecclesiastical  ideas  of  the  time. 

We  have  already  remarked  that  to  the  men  of 
the  eleventh  century,  ecclesiastical  reform  implied 
the  general  enforcement  of  clerical  celibacy. 
The  Winchester  Council  of  1072  had  issued  a 
decree  against  unchaste  clerks,  but  the  matter 
was  not  taken  up  in  detail  for  four  years  more, 
and  the  settlement  which  was  then  arrived  at 
was  much  more  lenient  to  the  adherents  of  the 
old  order  than  might  have  been  expected.  It 
made  a  distinction  between  the  two  classes  of 
the  secular  clergy.  All  clerks  who  were  members, 
of  any  religious  establishment,  whether  a  cathe- 
dral chapter,  or  college  of  secular  canons,  were 
to  live  celibate  for  the  future.  The  treatment 
applied  to  the  upland  clergy  was  summary. 
It  would  have  been  a  hopeless  task  to  force  .the 
celibate  life  upon  the  whole  parochial  clergy 
of  England,  but  steps  'could  be  taken  to  secure 
that  the  married  priest  would  become  an  extinct 
species  in  the  course  of  the  next  generation. 
Accordingly,  parish  priests  who  were  married  at 
the  time  might  continue  to  live  with  their  wives, 
but  all  subsequent  clerical  marriage  was  abso- 
lutely forbidden,  and  the  bishops  were  enjoined 
to  ordain  no  man  who  had  not  previously  made 
definite  profession  of  celibacy.  In  all  this  Lan- 
franc  was  evidently  anxious  to  pass  no  decree 
which  could  not  be  carried  into  immediate  execu- 
tion, even  if  this  policy  involved  inevitable  delay 

William  and  the  Church         397 

before  the  English  clergy  in  this  great  respect 
were  brought  into  line  with  their  continental 
brethren.  The  next  century  had  well  begun  be- 
fore the  native  clergy  as  a  whole  had  been  reduced 
to  acceptance  of  the  celibate  rule. 

The  monastic  revival  which  followed  the  Con- 
quest told  in  the  same  direction.  In  the  mere 
foundation  of  religious  houses,  the  Conqueror's 
reign  cannot  daim  a  high  place.  Such  monas- 
teries as  derive  theif  origin  from  this  period  were 
for  the  most  part  affiliated  to  some  continental 
establishment.  The  Conqueror's  own  abbey  of 
St.  Martin  of  the  Place  of  Battle  was  founded 
as  a  colony  from  Marmoutier,  though  it  soon  won 
complete  autonomy  from  the  jurisdiction  of  the 
parent  house.  It  was  a  noteworthy  event  when 
in  1076  William  de  Warenne  founded  at  Lewes 
the  first  Cluniac  priory  in  England,  although  it 
does  not  appear  that  any  other  house  of  this 
order  had  arisen  in  this  country  before  1087.  In 
monastic  history  the  interest  of  the  Conqueror's 
reign  centres  round  the  old  independent  Bene- 
dictine monasteries  of  England,  and  their  reform 
under  the  administration  of  abbots  imported 
from  the  continent.  Here  there  was  much  work 
to  be  done;  not  only  in  regard  to  the  tightening 
of  monastic  discipline,  but  also  in  the  accommo- 
dation of  these  ancient  houses,  with  their  wide 
lands  and  large  dependent  populations,  to  the 
new  conditions  of  society  which  were  the  result 
of  the  Conquest.  Knight  service  had  to  be  pro- 

39?         William  the  Conqueror 

vided  for ;  the  property  of  the  monastery  had  to  be 
organised  to  enable  it  to  bear  the  secular  burdens 
which  the  Conqueror's  policy  imposed;  foreign 
abbots  were  at  times  glad  to  rely  upon  the  legal 
knowledge  which  native  monks  could  bring  to 
bear  upon  the  intricacies  of  the  prevailing  system 
of  land  tenure.  The  Conqueror's  abbots  were  often 
men  of  affairs,  rather  than  saints;  their  work  was 
here  and  there  misunderstood  by  the  monks 
over  whom  they  ruled,  yet  it  cannot  be  doubted 
that  a  stricter  discipline,  a  more  efficient  dis- 
chaige  of  monastic  offices,  a  higher  conception  of 
monastic  life,  were  the  results  of  their  government. 
The  influence  of  their  work  was  not  confined 
within  monastic  walls.  In  the  more  accurate 
differentiation  of  monastic  duties  which  they 
introduced,  they  were  not  unmindful  of  the 
claims  of  the  monastery  school.  Very  gradually 
the  schools  of  such  houses  as  St.  Albans  and 
Malmesbury  came  to  affect  the  mass  of  the  native 
clergy.  And  the  process  was  quickened  by  the  con- 
trol which  the  monasteries  possessed  over  a 
considerable  proportion  of  the  parish  churches  of 
the  country.  The  grant  of  a  village  to  an  abbey 
meant  that  its  church  would  be  served  by  a  priest 
appointed  by  the  abbot,  and  in  Norman  times 
no  baron  would  found  a  religious  house  without 
granting  to  it  a  number,  of  the  churches  situate 
upon  his  fief.  Already  in  1066  the  several 
monasteries  of  England  possessed  a  large  amount 
of  patronage;  and  the  Norman  abbots  of  the 

William  and  the  Church         399 

eleventh  and  twelfth  centuries  were  not  slow  to 
employ  the  influence  they  possessed  in  this  way 
for  the  elevation  of  the  native  clergy. 

Of  course,  there  is  another  side  to  this  picture. 
In  the  little  world  of  the  monastery,  as  in  the 
wide  world  of  the  state,  it  was  the  character  of 
the  ruling  man  which  determined  whether  the 
ascendancy  of  continental  ideas  should  make  for 
good  or  evil.  The  autocracy  of  the  abbot  might 
upon  occasion  degenerate  into  sheer  tyranny: 
there  is  the  classical  instance  of  Thurstan  of 
Glastonbury,  who  turned  a  body  of  men-at-arms 
upon  his  monks  because  they  resisted  his  intro- 
duction of  the  Ambrosian  method  of  chanting 
the  services.1  It  was  an  easy  matter  for  an  abbot 
to  use  the  lands  of  his  church  as  a  means  of  pro- 
viding for  his  needy  kinsmen  in  Normandy2; 
the  pious  founder  in  the  next  generation  would 
often  explicitly  guard  against  the  unnecessary 
creation  of  knights'  fees  on  the  monastic  estates. 
An  abbot,  careless  of  his  responsibilities,  might 
neglect  to  provide  for  the  service  of  the  village 
churches  affiliated  to  his  house;  and  it  would  be 
difficult  to  call  him  to  account  for  this.  But, 
judging  from  the  evidence  which  we  possess,  we 
can  only  conclude  that  the  church  in  England 
did  actually  escape  most  of  the  evils  which  might 
have  resulted  from  the  superposition  of  a  new 

1  Peterborough  Chronicle,  1083. 

2  Abbot  Ethelhelm  of  Abingdon  was  considered  to  have 
offended  in  this  respect.     Hist.  Monast.  de  Abingdon,  ii.,  283. 

400         William  the  Conqueror 

spiritual  aristocracy.  The  bad  cases  of  which 
we  have  information  are  very  clearly  exceptions, 
thrown  into  especial  prominence  on  this  very 

.  And  against  the  dangers  we  have  just  indi- 
cated we  have  to  set  the  undoubted  fact  that 
with  the  Norman  Conquest  the  English  church 
passes  at  once  from  a  period  of  stagnation  to  a 
period  of  exuberant  activity.  In  the  conduct 
of  the  religious  life,  in  learning  and  architecture, 
in  all  that  followed  from  intimate  association 
with  the  culture  and  spiritual  ideals  of  the  con- 
tinent, the  reign  of  the  Conqueror  and  the  primacy 
of  Lanfranc  fittingly  inaugurate  the  splendid 
history  of  the  medieval  church  of  England.  And 
it  is  only  fair  for  us  to  attribute  the  credit  for 
this  result  in  large  measure  to  King  William 
himself.  Let  it  be  granted  that  the  actual  work 
of  reform  was  done  by  the  bishops  and  abbots  of 
England  under  the  guidance  of  Lanfranc;  there 
will  still  remain  the  fact  that  the  Conqueror  chose 
as  his  spiritual  associates  men  who  were  both 
willing  and  able  to  carry  the  work  of  reform 
into  effect.  Nothing  would  have  been  easier 
than  for  King  William,  coming  in  as  he  did  by 
conquest,  to  treat  the  English  church  as  the 
lawful  spoils  of  war.  Its  degradation  under  the 
rule  of  feudal  prelates  of  the  type  of  Geoffrey 
of  Coutances  would  have  made  for,  rather  than 
against,  his  secular  autocracy.  Had  he  reduced 
the  church  to  impotence  he  would  have  spared 

William  and  the  Church         401 

his  successors  many  an  evil  day.  But,  confident 
that  he  himself  would  always  be  supreme  in 
church  as  well  as  state,  he  was  content  to  entrust 
its  guidance  to  the  best  and  strongest  men  of 
whom  he  knew,  and  if  he  foresaw  the  dangers  of 
the  future  he  left  their  avoidance  to  those  who 
came  after  him. 

No  detailed  account  can  be  given  here  of  the 
prelates  whom  the  Conqueror  appointed  to  ec- 
clesiastical office  in  England.  In  point  of  origin 
they  were  a  very  heterogeneous  class  of  men. 
Some  of  them  were  monks  from  the  great  ab- 
beys of  Normandy;  Gundulf  of  Rochester  came 
from  Caen,  Remigius  of  Dorchester  from  F6camp; 
others,  such  as  Robert  of  Hereford,  were  of  Lo- 
tharingian  extraction.  Under  the  Conqueror,  as 
under  his  successors,  service  at  the  royal  court 
was  a  ready  road  to  ecclesiastical  promotion; 
nor  were  the  clerks  of  the  king's  chapel  the  least 
worthy  of  the  new  prelates.  Osmund  of  Salis- 
bury, who  attained  to  ultimate  canonisation,  had 
been  chancellor  from  1072  to  1077.  But  a  ques- 
tion immediately  presents  itself  as  to  the  relations 
which  existed  between  these  foreign  lords  of  the 
church  and  the  Englishmen,  derk  and  lay,  over 
whom  they  ruled.  Learned  and  zealous  they 
might  be,  and  yet,  at  the  same  time,  remain 
entirely  out  of  touch  with  the  native  popula- 
tion of  England.  To  presuppose  this,  however, 
would  be  a  great  injustice  to  the  new  prelates. 
The  very  diversity  of  their  origin  prevented 


402         William  the  Conqueror 

them  from  sharing  the  racial  pride  of  the  lay 
nobility,  and  their  position  as  servants  of  a  uni- 
versal church  told  in  the  same  direction.  They 
learned  the  English  language,  and  some  at  least 
among  them  preached  to  the  country  folk  in 
the  vernacular.  They  preserved  the  cult  of  the 
native  saints,  though  they  criticised  with  good 
reason  the  grounds  on  which  certain  kings  and 
prelates  had  received  canonisation,  and  in  most 
dioceses  they  retained  without  modification  the 
forms  of  ritual  which  had  been  developed  by 
the  Anglo-Saxon  church.  Among  all  the  forces 
which  made  for  the  assimilation  of  Englishman 
to  Norman  in  the  century  following  the  Conquest 
the  work  of  Bang  William's  bishops  and  abbots 
must  certainly  hold  a  high  place. 

The  friendly  relations  which  had  existed  between 
William  and  the  Curia  during  the  pontificate 
of  Alexander  II.  were  not  interrupted  immediately 
by  the  accession  of  Hildebrand,  in  1073,  but  there 
soon  appeared  ominous  symptoms  of  coming 
strife.  It  was  no  longer  a  matter  of  vital  impor- 
tance for  William  to  retain  the  favour  of  the 
papacy — he  was  now  the  undisputed  master  of 
England  and  Normandy  alike.  Hildebrand,  a 
man  of  genius,  in  whose  passionate  character 
an  inherent  hatred  of  compromise  clashes  with 
a  statesmanlike  recognition  of  the  demands  of 
practical  expediency,  could  not  be  expected  to 
refrain  from  advancing  the  ecclesiastical  claims 
to  the  furtherance  of  which  his  whole  soul  was 

William  and  the  Church         403 

devoted.  The  Conqueror  had  indeed  gone  far  in 
the  work  of  reform,  but  neither  in  England  nor 
in  Normandy  did  he  show  any  intention  of  con- 
forming to  the  Hildebrandine  conception  of  the 
model  relationship  which  should  exist  between 
church  and  state.  Of  his  own  will  he  appointed 
his  bishops  and  abbots,  and  they  in  turn  paid  him 
homage  for  their  temporal  possessions;  he  con- 
trolled at  pleasure  the  intercourse  between  his 
prelates  and  the  Holy  See.  Herein  lay  abundant 
materials  for  a  quarrel;  the  wonder  is  that  it  did 
not  break  out  for  six  years  after  Hildebrand's 

The  immediate  cause  of  the  outbreak  was  the 
abstention  of  the  English  and  Norman  bishops 
from  attendance  at  the  general  synods  of  the 
church  which  Hildebrand  convened  at  Rome 
during  these  years.  Lanfranc  was  the  chief 
offender  in  this  respect,  but  before  long  Hilde- 
brand came  to  recognise  that  Lanfranc  was  only 
acting  in  obedience  to  his  master's  orders,  and 
anger  at  the  discovery  drove  the  Pope  to  take 
the  offensive  against  his  former  ally.  Lanfranc 
was  peremptorily  summoned  to  Rome;  the  arch- 
bishop-elect of  Rouen,  William  Bona  Anima,  was 
refused  the  papal  confirmation,  and  Archbishop 
Gebuin  of  Lyons  was  given  an  extraordinary 
commission  as  primate  of  the  provinces  of 
Rouen,  Sens,  and  Tours;  a  step  which  at  once 
destroyed  the  ecclesiastical  autonomy  of  Nor- 
mandy. William's  reply  to  this  attack  was 

404         William  the  Conqueror 

characteristic  of  the  man.  He  was  not  without 
personal  friends  at  the  papal  court,  and  without 
yielding  his  ground  in  the  slightest  in  regard  to 
the  main  matter  in  dispute  he  contrived  to  pacify 
the  angry  Pope  by  protestations  of  his  un- 
altered devotion  to  the  Holy  See.  Gregory  bided 
his  time;  Archbishop  Gebuin's  primacy  came  to 
nothing.  William  of  Rouen  received  the  pallium, 
and  shortly  after  these  events  the  Pope  is  found 
writing  an  admonitory  letter  to  Robert  of  Nor- 
mandy, then  in  exile.  The  storm  had  in  fact 
blown  over,  but  a  greater  crisis  was  close  at  hand. 
It  is  quite  possible  that  Gregory  considered  that 
he  had  won  a  diplomatic  victory  in  the  recent 
correspondence.  He  had  not,  it  is  true,  carried 
his  main  point,  but  he  had  drawn  from  the  king 
of  England  a  notable  expression  of  personal 
respect,  and  it  is  possible  that  this  emboldened 
him  shortly  afterwards  to  make  a  direct  demand 
upon  William's  allegiance.  In  the  course  of  1080, 
to  adopt  the  most  probable  date,  Gregory  sent 
his  legate  Hubert  to  William  with  a  demand 
that  the  latter  should  take  an  oath  of  fealty  to 
the  Pope,  and  should  provide  for  the  more  punc- 
tual payment  of  the  tribute  of  Peter's  Pence  due 
from  England.  In  making  the  latter  demand 
Hildebrand  was  only  claiming  his  rights;  from 
ancient  time  Peter's  Pence  had  been  sent  to 
Rome  from  England,  and  the  Conqueror  admitted 
his  obligation  in  the  matter.  But  the  claim  of 
fealty  stood  on  a  different  footing.  William, 

William  and  the  Church         405 

indeed,  cannot  have  been  unprepared  for  it; 
it  was  inevitable  that  sooner  or  later  the  papacy 
would  endeavour  to  obtain  a  recognition,  in  the 
sphere  of  politics,  of  its  support  of  the  Norman 
claims  on  England  in  1066.  None  the  less,  it  was 
entirely  inadmissible  from  William's  standpoint. 
So  far  as  our  evidence  goes,  it  is  certain  that 
William  had  made  no  promise  of  feudal  allegiance 
in  1066  *;  for  him,  as  indeed  for  Alexander  II., 
the  papacy  had  already  reaped  its  reward  in  the 
ecclesiastical  sphere,  in  the  power  of  initiating 
the  reform  of  the  English  church,  in  the  more 
intimate  connection  established  between  Rome 
and  England.  Alexander  II.  had  been  willing  to 
subordinate  all  questions  of  spiritual  politics 
to  the  more  pressing  needs  of  ecclesiastical  reform, 
and  Gregory  had  hitherto  followed  his  prede- 
cessor's lead;  nor  on  the  present  occasion  did  he 
do  more  than  assert  a  claim  of  the  recognition 
of  which  he  can  have  held  but  slender  hopes. 
For  William  repudiated  the  Pope's  demand 
outright,  asserting  that  none  of  his  predecessors 
had  ever  sworn  fealty  to  any  former  Pope,  nor 
had  he  ever  promised  to  do  the  like.  We  have 
no  information  as  to  the  reception  which  William's 
answer  met  at  Rome;  but,  whatever  resentment 
he  may  have  felt,  Gregory  was  debarred  by  cir- 
cumstances from  taking  offensive  action  against 
the  king  of  England.  In  the  very  year  of  this 
correspondence,  Gregory  found  himself  confronted 
i  See  above,  Chapter  V. 

406         William  the  Conqueror 

by  an  anti-pope,  nominated  by  the  emperor; 
and  from  this  time  onward,  the  Pope's  difficulties 
on  the  continent  increased,  up  to  the  hour  of  his 
death  in  exile  five  years  later.  Fortune  con- 
tinued true  to  William,  even  in  his  ecclesiastical 

There  is  no  need  to  trace  in  detail  the  history  of 
William's  dealings  with  the  church  during  his 
last  years.  In  England  the  work  of  reform,  well 
begun  in  the  previous  decade,  continued  without 
interruption  under  the  guidance  of  the  new  pre- 
lates. There  is  some  evidence,  indeed,  that 
towards  the  close  of  William's  reign  the  English 
clergy  were  in  advance  of  their  Norman  breth- 
ren in  strictness  of  life  and  regard  for  canonical 
rule;  at  least  in  1080,  at  the  Synod  of  Lille- 
bonne,1  the  king  found  it  necessary  to  assume  for 
himself  the  jurisdiction  over  the  grosser  offences 
of  the  clergy,  on  the  ground  that  the  Norman 
bishops  had  been  remiss  in  their  prosecution.  But 
in  England  the  leaders  of  the  church  seem  to  have 
enjoyed  the  king's  confidence  to  the  last,  and 
their  reforming  zeal  needed  no  royal  intervention. 
The  work  of  Dunstan  and  Oswald,  frustrated  at 
the  time  by  unkind  circumstances,  had  at  last, 
under  stranger  conditions  than  any  they  might 
conceive,  reached  its  fulfilment. 

"9rdericus  Vitalis,  ii.,  315. 



THE  art  of  government  in  the  eleventh  century 
was  still  a  simple,  or  at  least  an  untechni- 
cal,  matter.  It  demanded  rather  a  strong  will 
in  the  sovereign  than  professional  knowledge  in 
his  ministers:  the  responsibility  was  the  king's, 
and  his  duty  to  his  subjects  was  plain  and  recog- 
nised by  all  men.  No  one  doubted  that  the 
maintenance  of  order  was  the  king's  work,  but 
the  method  of  its  performance  was  left  to  his 
discretion.  It  was  not  a  light  task,  but  it  was  a 
task  which  would  be  done  the  better  the  simpler 
were  the  agencies  employed,  the  more  immedi- 
ately each  act  of  government  was  felt  to  be  the 
personal  act  of  the  head  of  the  state.  The  time 
was  not  ripe  for  the  highly  specialised  adminis- 
tration of  Henry  II. ;  it  was  bound  to  take  more 
than  twenty  years  before  a  trained  body  of  admin- 
istrators could  be  elaborated  out  of  the  trans- 
planted Norman  baronage,  before  the  king  had 
learned  to  whom  he  could  safely  entrust  the 
permanent  work  of  civil  government.  The  Con- 
queror's administration  was  by  the  nature  of  the 
case  empirical;  neither  Normandy  nor  England 
had  anything  to  offer  in  the  way  of  centralised 
routine,  but  for  all  that  it  is  from  the  simple 


408         William  the  Conqueror 

expedients  adopted  by  William  that  the  medieval 
constitution  of  England  takes  its  origin. 

Just  as  in  Normandy  an  indefinite  body  of 
"optimates"  surrounded  the  duke,  and  expected 
to  be  consulted  on  occasions  of  special  importance, 
so  in  England  the  king's  greater  tenants,  lay 
and  ecclesiastical,  formed  a  potential  council,  the 
"Commune  Concilium"  of  later  writers.  The 
connection  between  the  council  in  its  English 
and  Norman  manifestations  was  something  closer 
than  mere  similarity  of  composition;  many  a 
man  who  witnessed  the  coronation  of  Queen 
Matilda  in  the  Easter  Council  of  1068  must  have 
sat  in  the  assembly  at  Lillebonne  which  discussed 
the  invasion  of  England;  and  judging  from  the 
evidence  of  charters  the  barons  who  accompany 
the  king  when  in  Normandy  will  probably  appear 
as  lords  of  English  fiefs  in  the  pages  of  Domesday 
Book.  Roger  de  Montgomery,  Henry  de  Ferrers, 
Walter  Giffard,  Henry  de  Beaumont — such  men 
as  these,  who  were  great  on  either  side  the  Chan- 
nel, appear  in  frequent  attendance  on  their  lord, 
whether  at  Rouen  or  at  Winchester.  Their  attend- 
ance, indeed,  was  a  guarantee  of  good  faith;  the 
baron  who,  when  summoned,  neglected  to  obey, 
became  thereby  a  suspected  person  at  once;  it 
was  considered  a  sign  of  disaffection  when  Earl 
Roger  of  Hereford  persistently  absented  himself 
from  William's  court. 

In  England  we  know  that  it  was  customary 
for  the  king  to  hold  a  great  council  thrice  in  each 

Administration  409 

year.  "Moreover"  says  the  Peterborough  chron- 
icler, "he  was  very  worshipful:  he  wore  his  crown 
thrice  in  every  year  when  he  was  in  England.  At 
Easter  he  wore  it  at  Winchester,  at  Whitsuntide 
at  Westminster,  at  midwinter  at  Gloucester, 
and  then  there  were  with  him  all  the  great  men  of 
all  England—  archbishops  and  bishops,  abbots  and 
earls,  thegns  and  knights";  "in  order,"  adds 
William  of  Malmesbury,  "that  ambassadors  from 
foreign  countries  might  admire  the  splendour  of 
the  assembly  and  the  costliness  of  the  feasts." 
As  it  is  only  at  these  great  seasons  that  the  Com- 
mune Concilium  comes  practically  into  being; 
we  may  give  a  list  of  those  known  to  be  present 
at  the  Easter  feast  of  1069  and  the  Christmas 
feast  of  1077,  to  which  we  may  add  a  list  of  those 
in  attendance  on  the  king  when  he  held  his  Easter 
feast  of  1080  in  Normandy.1 

r,  1069:  King  William;  Matilda,  the  Queen;  Richard, 
the  King's  son;  Stigand,  archbishop  of  Canterbury;  Ealdred, 
archbishop  of  York;  William,  bishop  of  London;  Ethelric, 
bishop  of  Selsey;  Herman,  bishop  of  Thetford;  Giso,  bishop 
of  Wells;  Leofric,  bishop  of  Exeter;  Odo,  bishop  of  Bayeux; 
Geoffrey,  bishop  of  Coutances;  Baldwin,  bishop  of  Evreux; 
Arnold,  bishop  of  Le  Mans;  Count  Robert  (of  Mortain),  Earl 
William  Pitz  Osbern,  Count  Robert  of  Eu,  Earl  Ralf  (of  Nor- 
folk?), Brian  of  Penthievre,  Fulk  de  Alnou,  Henry  de  Ferrers; 
Hugh  de  Montfort,  Richard  the  son  of  Count  Gilbert,  Roger 
d'  Ivri,  Hamon  the  Steward,  Robert,  Hamon's  brother.  — 
Tardif,  Archives  de  I'Empire,  179. 

Christmas,  1077:  King  William;  Lanfranc,  archbishop  of 
Canterbury;  Thomas,  archbishop  of  York;  Odo,  bishop  of  Bay- 
eux; Hugh,  bishop  of  London;  Walkelin,  bishop  of  Winchester; 
Remi,  bishop  of  Lincoln;  Maurice,  the  chancellor;  Vitalis,  ab- 

410         William  the  Conqueror 

It  will  be  clear  that  an  assembly  of  this  kind 
is  eminently  unfitted  to  be  the  organ  of  systematic 
government.  These  great  people,  bishops,  earls, 
and  abbots,  had  their  own  work  to  do,  work 
which  for  long  periods  kept  them  away  from 
the  king's  presence.  The  Commune  Concilium 
is  at  most  what  its  name  implies,  an  advisory 
body.  As  such  it  plays  the  part  taken  in  the 
Anglo-Saxon  policy  by  the  "Witan,"  and  the 
question  arises  whether  it  can  be  considered 
a  continuation  of  that  assembly  under  altered 
conditions  and  with  restricted  powers  or  whether 
it  proceeds  from  some  quite  different  principle. 

It  is  plain  that  the  Norman  council  is  in  no 
sense  a  popular  assembly;  we  certainly  cannot 
say  of  it,  as  has  been  said  of  the  "Witan,"  that 
"every  free  man  had  in  theory  the  right  to 
attend."  On  the  other  hand  it  is  probable  that 

bot  of  Westminster;  Scotland,  abbot  of  Ch.  Ch.,  Canterbury; 
Baldwin,  abbot  of  St.  Edmunds;  Simeon,  abbot  of  Ely;  Aelf- 
wine,  abbot  of  Ramsey;  Serlo,  abbot  of  Gloucester;  Earl  Roger 
of  Montgomery,  Earl  Hugh  of  Chester,  Count  Robert  of 
Mortain,  Count  Alan  of  Richmond,  Earl  Aubrey  of  North- 
umbria,  Hugh  de  Montfort,  Henry  de  Ferrers,  Walter  Giff ard, 
Robert  df  Oflli,  Hamon  the  Steward,  Wulfstan,  bishop  of 
Worcester. — Ramsey  Chartulary,  R.  S.,  ii.,  91. 

Easter,  1080:  King  William;  Matilda  the  Queen;  Robert, 
the  king's  son;  William,  the  king's  son;  William,  archbishop 
of  Rouen;  Richard,  archbishop  of  Bourges;  Warmund,  arch- 
bishop of  Vienne;  Geoffrey,  bishop  of  Coutances;  Gilbert, 
bishop  of  Lisieux;  Count  Robert,  the  king's  brother;  Count 
Roger  of  Eu,  Count  Guy  of  Ponthieu,  Roger  de  Beaumont, 
Robert  and  Henry,  his  sons,  Roger  de  Montgomery,  Walter 
GifEard,  William  df  Arques.—-£akHdar  of  Documents  Preserved 
in  France,  ed.  J.  H.  Round,  No.  78. 

Administration  4 1 1 

the  alleged  popular  composition  of  the  Witan 
is  illusory,  while  the  nature  of  the  body  which 
attended  Edward  the  Confessor  might  be  described 
equally  with  the  Conqueror's  councils  as  con- 
sisting of  "archbishops  and  suffragan  bishops, 
abbots  and  earls,  thegns  and  knights."  But  it  is 
probable  that  this  similarity  of  constitution  is 
only  superficial.  If  pressed  for  a  definition  of  the 
Commune  Concilium  we  [might,  perhaps,  venture 
to  say  that  it  consisted  potentially  of  all  those 
men  who  held  in  chief  of  the  crown  by  military 
service,  of  those  tenentes  in  capita  whose  estates 
in  Domesday  are  entered  under  separate  rubrics. 
This  definition  would  include  the  great  ecclesiasti- 
cal tenants,  while  it  would  exclude  the  undis- 
tinguished crowd  of  seigeants  (servientes)  and 
king's  thegns,  and  it  would  suggest  one  most  impor- 
tant respect  in  which  the  Commune  Concilium 
differs  from  its  Old  English  representative.  All 
the  members  of  the  Norman  council  are  united 
to  the  king  by  the  strongest  of  all  ties,  the  bond 
of  tenure.  That  great  change,  in  virtue  of  which 
every  acre  of  land  in  England  has  cqme  to  be 
held  mediately  or  immediately  of  the  king,  influ- 
ences constitutional  no  less  than  social  relations; 
the  king's  council  is  a  body  composed  of  men  who 
are  his  own  tenants.  From  this  technical  distinc- 
tion follows  a  difference  of  great  importance;  the 
king's  influence  over  his  council  becomes  direct 
and  inevitable  to  a  degree  impossible  before  the 
Conquest.  Under  Edward  the  Confessor  it  is 

412          William  the  Conqueror 

not  impossible  for  the  Witan  to  be  found  going  its 
own  way  with  but  scanty  regard  to  the  personal 
wishes  of  the  king;  under  the  Conqueror  and  his 
sons  the  king's  will  is  supreme.  Most  true  is  it  that 
the  three  Norman  kings  were  men  of  very  differ- 
ent quality  from  the  imbecile  Edward;, but  never- 
theless, the  tenurial  bond  between  the  king  and  his 
barons  made  it  impossible  for  the  latter  when 
in  council  to  follow  an  independent  political 
course.  The  Norman  kings  were  wise  enough  to 
entertain  advice  and  too  strong  for  that  advice 
ever  to  pass  into  dictation. 

Distinct  then  as  is  the  Commune  Concilium 
from  the  Witan,  we  nevertheless  meet  in  the 
earliest  years  of  William's  reign  with  certain 
assemblies  which  may  fairly  be  considered  as 
transitional  forms  between  the  two.  Up  to  the 
last  revolt  of  Edwin  and  Morcar  not  a  few  English- 
men continued  to  hold  high  positions  at  William's 
court;  and  among  the  witnesses  to  the  few 
charters  of  this  date  which  have  survived  there 
still  exists  a  fair  proportion  of  English  names. 
Such  men  as  Edwin  and  Morcar  themselves 
must  have  represented  the  independent  traditions 
of  the  Old  English  Witan,  and  there  are  other 
names  which  are  common  to  the  latest  charters 
of  King  Edward  and  the  earliest  charters  of 
King  William.  As  it  is  very  rarely  that  we  can 
obtain  a  glimpse  of  an  assembly  of  this  inter- 
mediate type  we  may  subjoin  a  list  of  those  in 
attendance  on  the  king  at  or  shortly  after  the 

\        \ 


Mar  IOCS 


,TTj  Earldoms  allowed  to  lapse 
Wales  and  Scotland  ( including 
irchfii  lordships) 

Administration  413 

Whitsuntide  Council  of  1069,  taken  from  a  charter 
restoring  to  the  church  of  Wells  lands  which 
Harold,  "inflamed  with  cupidity, "  is  said  to  have 
appropriated  unjustly: 

King  William;  Queen  Matilda;  Stigand,  archbishop; 
Ealdred,  archbishop;  Odo,  bishop  of  Bayeux;  Hugh, 
bishop  (of  Lisieux) ;  Herman,  bishop  (of  Thetford) ; 
Leofric,  bishop  of  Exeter;  Ethelmer,  bishop  of  Elm- 
ham;  William,  bishop  of  London;  Ethelric,  bishop  of 
Selsey;  Walter,  bishop  of  Hereford;  Remi,  bishop  of 
Lincoln;  Ethelnoth,  abbot  of  (Glastonbury) ;  Leof- 
weard,  abbot  of  (Michelney);  Wulfwold,  abbot  of 
Chertsey;  Wtdfgeat,  abbot;  Earl  William;  Earl  Wal- 
theof;  Earl  Edwin;  Robert,  the  king's  brother;  Roger, 
"princeps";  Walter  Giffard;  Hugh  de  Montfort; 
William  de  Curcelles;  Serlo  de  Burca;  Roger  de 
Arundel;  Richard,  the  king's  son;  Walter  the  Flem- 
ing; Rambriht  the  Fleming;  Thurstan;  Baldwin  "de 
Wailenleige";  Athelheard;  Hermenc;  Tofig,  "minis- 
ter"; Dinni;  "Alfge  atte  Thome";  William  de 
WalviUe;  Bundi,  the  StaUer;  Robert,  the  Staller; 
Robert  de  Ely;  Roger  "pincerna";  Wulfweard; 
Herding;  Adsor;  Brisi;  Brihtric.1 

Starting  with  the  greatest  persons  in  church 
and  state  the  list  gradually  shades  off  to  a  number 
of  obscure  names,  the  bearers  of  which  cannot 
be  identified  outside  this  record.  Some  of  these 
last  may  be  local  people  connected  with  the 
estates  to  which  the  grant  refers,  but  most  of 

i'  Printed  in  Transactions  of  Somerset  Archaeological  and 
Historical  Society,  xxiii.,  56 

414         William  the  Conqueror 

even  the  English  names  can  be  recognised  in  the 
general  history  of  the  time.  The  peculiar  value 
of  the  list  is  that  it  shows  us  Englishmen  and 
Normans  associated,  apparently  on  terms  of 
equality,  at  the  Conqueror's  court.  It  is  instructive 
to  see  the  English  earls  of  Northampton  and 
Mercia  signing  between  Earl  William  Fitz  Os- 
bern  and  Count  Robert  of  Mortain;  the  fact  that 
men  whose  names  are  among  the  greatest  in 
Domesday  Book  are  to  be  found  witnessing  the 
same  document  with  men  who  had  signed  Edward 
the  Confessor's  charters  helps  us  to  bridge  the 
.  gulf  which  separates  Anglo-Saxon  from  Norman 
England.  But  this  phenomenon  is  confined  to 
the  years  immediately  succeeding  the  Conquest; 
very  suddenly,  after  the  date  of  this  document, 
the  English  element  at  William's  court  gives 
way  and  disappears,  and  with  it  disappear  the 
names  which  unite  the  Old  English  "Witan" 
to  the  Norman  "Concilium."  This  is  a  fact  to 
which  we  have  already  had  occasion  to  refer, 
for  the  general  change  in  William's  policy  which 
occurs  in  1070  affects  every  aspect  of  his  history. 
The  functions  of  this  court  or  council  seem 
to  have  been  as  indeterminate  as  its  composition. 
Largely,  no  doubt,  they  were  ceremonial;  this 
aspect  of  the  council  was  evidently  in  the  mind 
of  William  of  Malmesbury  when  he  wrote  the  pas- 
sage quoted  on  page  409.  At  times  it  appears  as 
a  judicial  body,  Waltheof  was  condemned  in  the 
Midwinter  Cotincil  of  1075;  while  of  its  advisory 

Earldoms  allowed  to  lapse 
-1  Wales  and  Scotland  ( Including 

Administration  415 

powers  we  have  a  supreme  example  in  the  "deep 
speech"  at  Gloucester,  which  led  to  the  making 
of  Domesday  Book.  If  the  title  which  is  attached 
to  the  oldest  copy  of  William's  laws  has  any 
validity,  they  were  promulgated  in  accordance 
with  Old  English  customs  by  the  king  c^w^  prin- 
cipibus  suis;  one  clause  in  particular  is  said  to 
have  been  ordained  "in  civitate  Claudia,"  which 
may  suggest  that  the  law  in  question  had  been 
decreed  in  one  of  the  Midwinter  Councils  at 
Gloucester.  But  of  one  thing  only  we  can  be 
sure,  whatever  functions  the  Council  may  have 
fulfilled,  the  king's  will  was  the  motive  force 
which  under  lay  all  its  action. 

In  later  times,  the  chief  justiciar  appears  as  the 
normal  president  of  the  Council,  but  in  William's 
reign  it  is  hard  to  find  any  single  officer  bearing 
that  title.  No  doubt,  when  William  was  in 
England  he  himself  presided  over  his  council; 
when  he  was  in  Normandy,  if  the  council  met  at 
all,  which  is  unlikely,  his  place  would  probably  be 
taken  by  the  representative  he  had  left  behind 
"him.  It  is,  perhaps,  impossible  to  give  a  dated 
list  of  the  vicegerents  who  appear  in  William's 
reign;  our  notices  of  them  are  very  scanty.  We 
have  seen  that  in  1067  William  Fitz  Osbern  and 
Odo  of  Bayeux  were  left  as  "regents"  of  England 
when  William  made  his  first  visit  to  Normandy 
after  the  Conquest;  there  has  survived  an  inter- 
esting writ  of  that  year  in  which  "Willelm  cyng 
and  Willelm  eorl"  address  jointly  the  country 

4i  6         William  the  Conqueror 

magnates  of  Somersetshire.1  At  the  time  of  the 
revolt  of  the  three  earls  in  1075,  it  is  clear  that 
Lanfranc  was  the  king's  vicegerent,  an  office 
which  he  probably  filled  again  during  William's 
last  continental  visit  in  1086-7.  F°r  several 
reasons  it  is  probable  that  Odo  of  Bayeux  was 
regent  not  long  before  his  fall  in  1082 ;  it  was  as 
the  king's  representative  that  he  took  drastic 
vengeance  on  the  murderers  of  Bishop  Walcher 
of  Durham  in  1080,  and  a  most  suggestive  story 
in  the  Abingdon  Chartulary  shows  us  King 
William  repudiating  the  judgment  which  his 
brother  had  given  in  a  local  lawsuit  during  his 
regency.2  From  the  same  chartulary  we  learn 
that  at  some  time  between  1071  and  1081  Queen 
Matilda  herself  was  hearing  pleas  at  Windsor 
1  'in  place  of  the  king  who  was  then  in  Normandy,"3 
though  this,  of  course,  need  not  imply  that  she 
was  regent  in  any  wider  sense  of  the  term.  In 
general,  the  writs  which  the  king  sent  from  Nor- 
mandy into  England  will  be  addressed  directly  to 
the  ordinary  authorities  of  the  shire ;  and  our  know- 
ledge of  the  succession  of  William's  representatives 
is  derived  from  incidental  notices  elsewhere. 

So  far  as  we  can  see  King  William  was  always 
attended  by  a  varying  number  of  his  barons; 
a  continually  changing  cort&ge  followed  the 
king  in  his  progress  over  the  country.  To  this 

*  Bath  Chartulary  (Somerset  Record  Society),  i.,  36. 
a  Hist.  Monasterti  de  Abingdon,  R.  S.,  ii.f  9. 
s  Ibid.,  10. 


September  1087 

Wales  and  Scotland  ( including 
marcher  loiddtipa) 

Administration  417 

fluctuating  body,  just  as  to  the  solemn  council, 
our  Latin  authorities  give  the  title  of  the  King's 
Court,  the  "Curia  Regis,"  a  phrase  which  at  once 
connects  the  amorphous  group  of  William's 
courtiers  with  the  specialised  executive  of  Henry 
II.  In  a  sense,  no  doubt,  William's  court  was  the 
only  executive  of  its  time,  but  the  employment 
of  these  modern  terms  leads  straight  towards 
anachronism;  the  judicial  function  of  the  Curia 
Regis  was  quite  as  important  as  its  executive 
work,  and  the  court  was,  after  all,  only  a  fraction 
of  that  larger  council  in  which  we  have  seen 
"judicial,"  "executive,"  and  "legislative"  powers 
to  be  combined.  If  we  are  to  make  for  ourselves 
a  distinction  between  two  bodies  which  are  tacitly 
identified  by  all  early  writers,  we  may  say  that 
the,  Curia  Regis  was  composed  of  just  those 
members  of  the  Commune  Concilium  who  hap- 
pened to  be  in  attendance  on  the  king  at  any 
given  moment.  But  we  must  remember  that  to 
the  men  of  the  eleventh  century  the  king's  "court  " 
and  the  king's  "council"  were  one  and  the  same; 
any  distinction  between  them  which  we  may  make 
exists  for  our  own  convenience  and  nothing  more; 
the  court  was  only  a  shrunken  form  of  the  council. 
Even  those  men  who  are  most  frequently  to  be 
found  in  attendance  on  the  king  do  not  seem  to 
be  characterised  either  by  special  legal  knowledge 
or  by  definite  official  position.  Great  officers  of 
the  court,  such  as  the  steward  and  the  constable, 
do  repeatedly  appear;  their  positions  have  not 

4i  8         William  the  Conqueror 

yet  become  annexed  to  any  of  the  greater  baronial 
houses,  and  it  is  probable  that  their  official 
duties  are  a  reality;  but,  although  Eudo  Fits 
Hubert  (de  Rye)  the  steward,  for  instance,  seems 
to  have  been  a  personal  friend  of  all  three  Norman 
kings,  and  accordingly  is  a  frequent  signatory  of 
their  writs,  such  members  of  the  official  class  seem 
always  to  be  accompanied  by  the  unofficial  barons 
present.  Their  attendance  also  is  very  inter- 
mittent; even  the  chancellor  is  much  less  in  evi- 
dence in  the  Conqueror's  charters  than  in  those 
of  Henry  I.  or  II.,  and  under  these  circum- 
stances we  may  fairly  ask  how  this  unprofessional 
body  acted  when  required  to  behave  as  a  court 
of  law.  English  evidence  helps  us  little,  but  we 
get  a  useful  hint  as  to  procedure  in  certain  Nor- 
man charters  and  an  analysis  of  one  of  them 
may  be  quoted: 

"At  length  both  parties  were  summoned  before 
the  king's  court,  in  which  there  sat  many  of  the  nobles 
of  the  land  of  whom  Geoffrey,  bishop  of  Coutances, 
was  delegated  by  the  king's  authority  as  judge  of  the 
dispute,  with  Ranulf  the  Vicomte,  Neel,  son  of  Neel, 
Robert  de  TIsepont,  and  many  other  capable  judges 
who  diligently  and  fully  examined  the  origin  of  the 
dispute,  and  delivered  judgment  that  the  mill  ought 
to  belong  to  St.  Michael  and  his  monks  forever. 
The  most  victorious  king  "William  approved  and  con- 
firmed this  decision."  1 

*  Round,  Calendar  of  Documents  Preserved  in  France,  No. 

Administration  419 

Geoffrey,  bishop  of  Coutances  is  one  of  the 
more  frequent  visitors  at  William's  English 
courts,  and  we  may  suspect  that  this  method 
was  not  infrequently  used  in  England  when  the 
intricacy  of  a  matter  in  dispute  surpassed  the 
legal  competence  of  the  court  as  a  whole.  It 
forms,  in  fact,  the  first  stage  in  that  segregation 
of  a  legal  nucleus  within  the  indifferentiated 
Curia  which  created  the  executive  organ  of  the 
days  of  the  two  great  Henrys.  The  early  part 
of  this  process  takes  place  almost  wholly  in  the 
dark  so  far  as  England  is  concerned,  and  we 
must  seriously  doubt  whether  it  had  led  to  any 
very  definite  results  when  the  Conqueror  died; 
for  it  is  to  Henry  I.,  rather  than  to  his  father, 
that  we  should  assign  the  formation  of  an  organised 
body  of  roypl  administrators.  In  this,  as  in  other 
institutional  matters,  the  Conqueror's  reign  was 
a  time  of  tentative  expedients  and  simple  solu- 
tions; it  is  essentially  a  period  of  origins. 

The  king's  court  is  a  very  mobile  body.  The 
king  is  always  travelling  from  place  to  place,  and 
where  he  is  at  any  moment  there  is  his  court 
held  also.  It  is  possible  to  construct  an  itinerary 
of  our  kings  from  Henry  II.  onward,  but  this 
cannot  be  done  in  the  case  of  William,  for  it  is 
exceptional  for  his  charters  to  contain  any  dating 
clause.  William  is  indeed  to  be  seen  issuing  writs 
in  very  different  parts  of  his  kingdom:  at  Win- 
chester, the  ancient  capital  of  Wessex,  and  York, 
the  ancient  capital  of  Northumbria;  at  hunting 

420     .    William  the  Conqueror 

seats  such  as  Brill  and  Woodstock;  at  Downton  in 
Wiltshire,  Droitwich,  and  Burton-on-Trent;  but 
the  list  of  places  which  we  know  to  have  been 
visited  by  William  and  his  court  in  time  of  peace 
is  very  small  compared  with  the  materials  which 
we  possess  for  an  itinerary  of  Henry  I.,  or  even 
of  William  Rufus.  To  this  deficiency  of  informa- 
tion is  lately  to  be  attributed  the  fact  that, 
compared  with  Henry  I.,  'William  is  rarely  *  to  be 
found  in  the  northern  parts  of  his  kingdom;  it  is 
probable  that  fuller  knowledge  of  the  details 
of  his  progresses  would  reveal  a  number  of  unre- 
corded visits  to  the  shires  beyond  Watling  Street. 

A  natural  means  of  transition  from  the  king's 
court  to  the  local  divisions  of  the  country,  the 
shires  and  hundreds,  is  afforded  by  the  recognised 
means  of  communication  between  the  two,  those 
writs  of  which  mention  has  already  been  made. 
In  form  a  writ  is  simply  a  letter  addressed 
to  the  persons  who  are  responsible  for  the  fulfil- 
ment  of  its  directions,  and  it  is  usually  witnessed, 
as  we  have  seen,  by  a  greater  or  less  number 
of  the  persons  present  with  the  king  at  the  time 
of  its  issue.  Such  a  letter  might  be  written  either 
in  Latin  or  in  Old  English,  the  former  of  course 
being  more  usual  under  the  Norman  kings,  and 
it  was  usually  authenticated  with  the  king's 
great  seal.  This  simple  device  seems  to  have 
been  the  legal  means  by  which  the  great  transfer 
of  land  which  followed  the  Conquest  was  brought 

» Henry  I.  is  seldom  found  north  of  Nottingham. 

Administration  421 

about;  the  king  would  send  down  one  of  these 
writs  to  the  sheriff  of  a  county  directing  hi™ 
to  put  a  certain  baron  in  possession  of  certain 
specified  lands,  and  the  sheriff  would  need  no 
further  warrant.  We  may  give  the  following 
as  an  example  of  a  writ  in  its  Latin  form: 

"William  king  of  the  English  salutes  Baldwin 
sheriff  of  Devonshire  and  all  his  barons  and  servants 
in  that  shire. 

Know  ye  that  I  have  granted  to  my  monks  of 
Battle  [de  Bello]  the  church  of  St.  Olaf  in  Exeter 
with  the  lands  of  Shiref  ord  and  with  all  other  lands 
and  possessions  belonging  to  the  said  church.  Where* 
fore,  I  will  and  command  that  they  hold  it  freely 
and  in  peace  and  quit  from  every  duty  of  earthly 
service  and  from  all  pleas  and  claims  and  [attendance 
at]  shire  and  hundred  courts  and  from  every  geld  and 
'scot'  and  aid  and  gift  and  danegeld  and  army 
service,  with  sake  and  soke  andinfangenethef;  [quit 
moreover  from]  all  works  on  castles  and  bridges,  as 
befits  my  demesne  alms.  Witnessed  by  Thomas, 
Archbishop  of  York,  and  William,  the  son  of  Osbert 
at  Winchester." l 

Any  comment  on  the  privileges  conveyed  by 
the  document  would  be  outside  our  present  pur- 
pose, which  is  merely  to  illustrate  the  way  in  which 
King  William  sent  his  instructions  into  the 
different  parts  of  his  kingdom.  But  the  formula 
of  address  deserves  notice  because  it  suggests 
that  the  writ  was  really  directed  to  the  shire 

i  Menasticon,  iii.,  377. 

422         William  the  Conqueror 

court  where  the  sheriff  and  the  "barons  and  king's 
servants"  of  the  shire  periodically  met.  There 
it  would  be  read  in  the  presence  of  the  assembled 
men  of  the  county,  and  the  sheriff  would  forth- 
with proceed  to  carry  its  directions  into  effect. 
The  sheriff  in  the  king's  eyes  is  clearly  the  execu- 
tive officer  of  the  shire  and  his  importance  is  not 
to  be  measured  by  the  modern  associations  aroused 
by  his  title.  The  Latin  word  which  we  translate 
as  "  sheriff"  is  vicecomes  and  this  word  also  repre- 
sents the  French  vicomte,  a  fact  which  should  by 
no  means  be  ignored,  for  the  sheriffs  of  the  half- 
century  succeeding  the  Conquest  resemble  their 
French  contemporaries  much  more  closely  than 
either  their  English  successors  of  the  twelfth 
century  or  the  shire  reeves  of  the  Anglo-Saxon 
period.  For  one  thing,  they  are  in  a  sense  true 
vicecomites:  the  sheriff  was  the  chief  officer  in  each 
county  in  which  there  was  no  earl,  and  the 
earldoms  created  by  William  were  few,  and  with 
the  exception  of  Kent  were  situated  in  remote 
parts  of  the  land.  Then  also  it  is  certain  that 
some  at  least  of  the  more  important  sheriffdoms 
were  hereditary  in  much  the  same  sense  as  that 
in  which  the  great  earldoms  before  the  Con- 
quest were  hereditary — the  cases  of  Devon, 
Wiltshire  and  Essex  are  examples — to  which  we 
must  add  that  the  early  Norman  sheriffs  are 
often  very  great  men.  Baldwin  the  sheriff  of 
Devon  was  the  son  of  William's  own  guardian, 
Count  Gilbert  of  Brionne,  and  two  of  his  sons 

Administration  423 

followed  him  in  the  office.  Edward  the  sheriff 
of  Wiltshire  was  the  ancestor  of  the  medieval 
earls  of  Salisbury.  Urse  de  Abetot,  alternately 
despoiler  and  tenant  of  the  church  of  Worcester 
was  the  chief  lay  landowner  in  Worcestershire, 
Hugh  Pitz  Baldric,  sheriff  of  Yorkshire,  was 
among  the  greater  tenants  in  chief  in  that  county. 
In  local,  as  in  general  constitutional  history,  it  is 
most  important  not  to  read  the  ideas  of  Henry 
II.'s  time  into  the  institutions  which  prevailed 
under  the  Conqueror.  Had  William  in  1070  tried 
to  carry  out  a  general  deposition  of  his  sheriffs, 
such  as  Henry  II.  actually  achieved  in  1170, 
the  attempt,  we  may  be  sure,  would  have  led  to  a 
revolt,  and  the  mass  of  the  baronage  would  have 
sided  with  the  official  members  of  their  class. 
But  indeed,  so  long  as  the  Normans  were  still 
intruders  in  a  conquered  country,  it  was  only 
politic  on  William's  part  to  govern  through  men 
of  strong  territorial  position,  men  who  had  the 
power  to  enforce  the  king's  commands  in  their  own 
localities.  In  the  choice  of  his  local  administrators, 
as  in  certain  other  aspects  of  his  policy,  William 
was  preparing  difficulties  for  his  successors,  but. 
his  justification  lay  in  the  essential  needs  of  his 
own  time.  The  great  transfer  of  land  from 
Englishmen  to  Normans,  to  take  one  instance, 
could  never  have  been  accomplished  if  the  local 
government  of  the  country  had  been  in  weak 
In  the  period  immediately  following  the  Con- 

424         William  the  Conqueror 

quest,  the  four  years  between  1066  and  1070, 
which  in  so  many  respects  are  distinct  from  the 
rest  of  William's  reign,  perhaps  the  majority  of 
the  sheriffdoms  continued  to  be  held  by  English- 
men. Within  this  period  writs  are  addressed 
to  Edmund,  sheriff  of  Herefordshire,  Sawold  of 
Oxfordshire,  Swegen  of  Essex,,  and  Tofig  of 
Somerset,  and  even  after  1070  such  Englishmen 
as  Ethelwine,  sheriff  of  Staffordshire,1  continue 
the  series.  In  fact,  the  development  of  the 
provincial  administration  in  this  respect  seems 
to  have  followed  a  very  similar  course  to  that 
which  we  have  noted  in  the  case  of  the  king's 
court;  there  is  a  period  in  which  men  of  both 
races  are  mingled  in  the  government  of  the 
shires,  as  well  as  in  attendance  on  the  king's 
person.  But  by  the  end  of  the  reign  the  change 
in  both  respects  had  become  almost  complete, 
and  the  introduction  of  Norman  sheriffs  began 
early;  for  before  1069  Urse  de  Abetot  had  already 
entered  upon  his  agressive  course  as  sheriff  of 
Worcestershire,  and  it  is  very  probable  that  even 
by  the  time  of  William's  coronation  the  Norman 
Geoffrey  had  succeeded  Ansgar  the  Staller  in  his 
sheriffdom  of  London  and  Middlesex.2 

Prom  the  sheriffs  we  may  pass  naturally  to 
their  superiors  in  rank,  the  earls.  Taught  by 
experience,  William  regarded  the  vast,  half-inde- 
pendent earldoms  of  the  later  Anglo-Saxon 
period  with  profound  mistrust,  and  as  the  occasion 

i  V.  C.  H.,  Warwick,  i.,  258.          a  See  above,  Chapter  VI. 

Administration  425 

presented  itself  he  allowed  them  to  lapse.  All 
the  earldoms  held  by  members  of  the  hou&  of 
Godwine  became  extinct  with  the  battle  of 
Hastings,  but  the  great  provincial  governments 
of  Mercia  and  Northumbria  probably  lasted 
until  the  final  revolt  of  Earls  Edwin  and  Morcar 
in  the  spring  of  1069.  After  their  suppression 
there  remained  three  minor  earldoms  of  Anglo- 
Saxon  origin,  East  Anglia,  Northampton,  and 
Bernicia,  the  holders  of  which,  as  we  have  seen, 
were  mainly  responsible  for  the  rebellion  of  1075. 
Upon  William's  triumph  in  the  latter  year  the 
East  Anglian  earldom  was  suppressed,  that  of 
Northampton  ceases  to  exist  for  the  remainder  of 
the  Conqueror's  reign,  and  we  have  already 
noticed  the  reasons  which  led  to  the  continuance 
of  the  earldom  of  Bernicia.  Similar  motives  led 
to  the  creation  of  the  four  earldoms  which  alone 
can  be  proved  to  have  come  into  being  before  1087, 
and  which  deserve  to  be  considered  in  detail 
here.  They  are : 

1.  Hereford,  granted  to  William  Fitz  Osbern  before 
January,  1067. 

2.  Shrewsbury,  granted  to  Roger  de  Montgomery 
circ.   1070. 

3.  Chester,  granted  to  Hugh  d'Avranches,  before 
January,  1071. 

4.  Kent,  granted  to  Odo,  bishop  of  Bayeux,  pos- 
sibly before  January,  1067. 

The  exact  extent  of  the  earldom  of  Hereford 
is  doubtful,  for  there  exists  a  certain  amount  of 

426         William  the  Conqueror 

evidence  which  makes  it  probable  that  William 
Fitz  Osbern  possessed  the  rights  of  an  earl  over 
Gloucestershire  and  Worcestershire  in  addition 
to  the  county  from  which  he  took  his  title.  We 
have  already  discussed  the  general  significance 
of  the  early  writ  which  the  king  addressed  to 
Earl  William  and  the  magnates  of  Gloucestershire 
and  Worcestershire,  and  the  evidence  pf  this 
document  is  supported  by  the  fact  that  the  eaii 
appears  as  dealing  in  a  very  arbitrary  fashion 
with  land  and  property  in  both  shires.1  It  is 
probable  on  other  grounds  that  Gloucestershire 
lay  within  the  Fitz  Osbern  earldom,  for  William's 
possessions  extended  far  south  of  the  Hereford- 
shire border  to  the  lands  between  Wye  and  Usk 
in  the  modern  county  of  Monmouth,  and  the 
addition  of  Gloucestershire  to  Herefordshire  is  re- 
quired to  complete  the  line  of  earldoms  which 
lay  along  the  Welsh  border.  On  the  other  hand 
it  seems  probable  that  Worcestershire  never 
belonged  to  Roger,  William  Fitz  Osbern's  son, 
for  in  1075  it  was  the  main  object  of  the  royal 
captains  in  the  west  to  prevent  him  from  crossing 
the  Severn  to  the  assistance  of  his  friends  in  the 
midlands.  In  any  case  the  early  date  at  which 
the  earldom  of  Hereford  was  created  deserves 
notice,  for  it  shows  that  within  four  months  of  the 
battle  of  Hastings  William  was  strong  enough 
to  place  a  foreign  earl  in  command  of  a  remote 

i  See  the  complaints  of  his  aggressions  in  Heming's  History 
of  the  Chwrch  of  Worcester;  Monasticon,  i.,  593-599. 

Administration  427 

and  turbulent  border  shire.  Short  as  was  his 
tenure  of  his  earldom  William  Fitz  Osbern  was 
able  to  leave  his  mark  there;  fifty  years  after  his 
death  there  still  remained  in  force  an  ordinance 
which  he  had  decreed  to  the  effect  that  no  knight 
should  be  condemned  to  pay  more  than  seven 
shillings  for  any  offence.1  Lastly,  it  should  be 
noted  that  in  a  document  of  10672  William  Fitz 
Osbern  is  styled  "consul  palatinus,"  a  title  which 
should  not  be  construed  "palatine  earl,"  but 
which  rather  means  that  William,  though  raised 
to  comital  rank,  still  retained  the  position  of 
"dapifer"  or  steward  of  the  court,  which  he 
inherited  from  his  father,  the  unlucky  Osbern  of 
the  Conqueror's  minority,  and  in  virtue  of  which 
the  earl  of  Hereford  continued  to  be  the  titular 
head  of  the  royal  household. 

To  the  north  of  William  Fitz  Osbern,  Roger 
de  Montgomery,  the  other  friend  of  William's 
early  days,  was  established  in  an  earldom  threaded 
by  the  Severn  as  Herefordshire  is  threaded  by  the 
Wye,  and  stretching  along  the  former  river  to 
the  town  and  castle  to  which  the  house  of  Mont- 
gomery left  its  name.  From  the  standpoint 
of  frontier  strategy  Roger's  position  was  even 
more  important  than  that  held  by  his  neighbour 
of  Hereford;  for  Shrewsbury,  the  point  where 
roads  from  London,  Stafford  and  the  east,  and 
Chester  and  the  north  met  before  crossing  the 

»  William  of  Malmesbury,  ii.f  314. 

*  Calendar  of  Documents  Preserved  in  France,  No.  77. 

428          William  the  Conqueror 

Severn,  continued  throughout  the  Middle  Ages 
to  be  the  key  to  mid-Wales.  Unfortunately,  the 
date  at  which  Roger  received  the  Shropshire  earl- 
dom cannot  be  fixed  with  certainty,  for,  while  he 
appears  at  court  in  the  enjoyment  of  comital 
rank  as  early  as  1069,  the  one  account  which 
we  possess  of  the  operations  at  Shrewsbury  in  the 
latter  year  virtually  implies  that  the  town  was 
then  in  the  king's  hand.  Probably  the  discre- 
pancy is  to  be  explained  by  the  fact  that  before 
he  received  his  grant  of  Shropshire  Roger  had 
been  given  the  castle  of  Arundel  and  the  town  of 
Chichester  in  the  distant  shire  of  Sussex.1  It 
is  highly  probable,  in  fact,  that  Roger  possessed 
the  rights  of  an  earl  over  the  latter  county,2  and 
such  a  grant  would  fall  in  well  with  the  general 
policy  of  the  Conqueror,  for  Sussex  was  only  less 
important  than  Kent  as  a  point  of  arrival  from  the 
continent,  and  in  the  eleventh  century  Arundel 
was  a  port.  Most  probably  Roger  was  appointed 
earl  of  Shrewsbury  after  the  events  of  1069  had 
shown  that  a  coalition  of  Welsh  and  English 
was  the  most  pressing  danger  of  the  moment,  but 
he  continued  in  possession  of  Arundel  and  Chiches- 
ter.3 Once  established  at  Shrewsbury,  Roger 
and  his  followers  speedily  proceeded  to  take  the 
offensive  against  the  Welsh,  and  in  1072  Hugh  de 
Montgomery,  the  earl's  eldest  son,  extended  his 

1  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii.,  178. 

a  Compare  Round,  Geoffrey  de  Mandevftte,  322. 

»  See  the  charters  of  William  II.  in  Monasticon,  viii.,  1167. 

Administration  429 

raids  as  far  south  as  Cardigan.  In  addition  to 
being  the  earl  of  two  English  shires,  Roger  de 
Montgomery  held  great  possessions  in  Normandy 
and  Prance;  in  right  of  his  wife  he  was  count  of 
BellSme,  and  by  a  more  distant  succession  he 
became  Seigneur  of  Alengon,  while  a  series  of 
marriage  alliances  placed  him  at  the  head  of  a 
powerful  group  of  kinsmen.  But  it  is  probable 
that  the  place  which  he  holds  in  history  is  due 
less  to  his  wide  lands  and  great  power  than  to 
the  accident  that  one  of  his  knights  became  the 
father  of  the  greatest  historian  whom  Normandy 
had  so  far  produced.  The  earl  of  Shrewsbury 
was  a  great  baron  and  a  loyal  knight,  but  when 
we  regard  him  as  representing  the  best  aspect 
of  the  Norman  conquerors  of  England  we  are, 
consciously  or  otherwise,  guided  by  the  place 
which  he  fills  in  the  narrative  of  the  chronicler 
born  within  his  earldom,  Ordericus  Vitalis. 

The  circumstances  under  which  the  earldom  of 
Chester  was  created  present  a  certain  amount  of 
difficulty.  Chester  itself  was  the  last  great  town 
of  England  which  called  for  separate  reduction  at 
William's  hands,  and  it  did  not  fall  until  the  be- 
ginning of  1070.  Then  we  are  told  that  William 
gave  the  earldom  of  Cheshire  to  Gherbod,  one  of  his 
Flemish1  followers,  but  an  original  charter2  of  the 
time  shows  us  Hugh  Lupus  of  Avranches  already 
addressed  as  earl  of  Chester  in  or  before  February, 

»  Ordericus  Vitalis,  ii.,  219. 
a  Reproduced  herewith. 

430          William  the  Conqueror 

1071.  Now  Gherbod  (who  never  appears  in  any 
English  document)  was  killed  in  Flanders  in  the 
latter  month,  so  that  we  can  only  suppose  that, 
if  he  ever  received  the  earldom,  he  never  took 
practical  possession  of  it,  and  resigned  it  almost 
immediately.  The  historical  earldom  of  Chester 
is  that  which  remained  in  the  family  of  Hugh  of 
Avranches  for  two  centuries  and  formed  the 
"county  palatine"  which  survived  until  1536.  It 
was  a  frontier  earldom  in  a  double  sense:  Chester 
controlled  the  passage  of  the  Dee  into  North 
Wales  and  also  the  coast  road  to  Rhuddlan  and 
Anglesey,  while  so  long  as  all  England  north  of 
Morecambe  Bay  was  Scotch  territory,  it  was  politic 
to  entrust  much  power  to  the  man  who  com- 
manded the  west  coast  route  from  the  midlands 
to  the  north.  Judging  from  the  evidence  of 
Domesday  Book,  the  whole  of  Cheshire  formed  one 
compact  fief  in  the  hands  of  its  earl ;  it  is  the  only 
county  in  England  possessed  outright  by  one  ten- 
ant-in-chief. Of  Earl  Hugh,  we  can  draw  the  out- 
lines of  no  very  pleasing  picture.  He  was  devoted 
to  every  kind  of  sensual  indulgence,  and  so  fat 
that  no  horse  could  carry  him;  he  is  charged 
like  most  of  his  contemporaries  with  disrespect 
to  the  rights  of  church  property.  On  the  other 
hand,  he  was,  so  far  as  we  can  see,  unswerv- 
ingly faithful  to  the  king,  and  he  abundantly 
fulfilled  his  natural  duty  of  keeping  the  Welsh 
away  from  the  English  border;  nor  is  it  probable 
that  William  would  have  entrusted  to  a  leth- 

Administration  431 

argic  fool  one  of  the  most  responsible  positions 
in  his  kingdom. 

The  case  of  Kent  stands  apart  from  that  of  its 
three  sister  earldoms.    The  latter  were  created  as 
the  readiest  means  of  securing  a  part  of   the 
country  remote  from  the  centre  of  authority.    The 
importance  of  Kent  lay  in  its  position  between 
London  and  the  Channel  ports.    Through  the 
county  ran  the  great  Dover  road,  the  main  artery 
of  communication  between  all  northern  England 
and  the  continent,  the  obvious  line  along  which  an 
invader  would  strike  at  London.     The  rising  of 
1067  proved  the  reality  of  such  danger  and  it  was 
reasonable  that  the  county  should  be  placed  in 
charge  of  the  man  who  by  relationship  was  the 
natural  vicegerent  of  the  king  when  the  latter  was 
across  the  Channel.    Territorially,  Kent  was  much 
less  completely  in  the  hands  of  its  earl  than  was  the 
case  with  either  of  the  three  western  earldoms, 
but  the  possessions  of  Odo  of  Bayeux  in  the  rest 
of  England  placed  him  in  the  first  rank  of  land- 
owners.   The  date  at  which  the  earldom  was 
created  is  not  quite  certain;  like  William  Pite 
Osbern,  Odo  may  have  received  his  earldom  at  the 
time  of  his  joint  regency  with  the  former  in  1067. 
He  is  addressed  as  bishop  of  Bayeux  and  earl  of 
Kent  in  a  charter  which  is  not  later  than  1077,  and 
his  rank  as  an  earl  is  strikingly  brought  out  in  the 
circumstances  of  his  dramatic  arrest  in  1082. 

Judged  by  later  events,  the  creation  of  these  four 
great  earldoms  may  seem  to  have  been  a  mistake 

432          William  the  Conqueror 


on  the  part  of  the  Conqueror.  Hereford,  Kent, 
and  Shropshire  in  turn  served  as  the  base  of  opera- 
tions for  a  formidable  revolt  within  fifty  years  of 
the  Conquest.  Their  formation  also  contrasts 
with  the  general  principles  which  governed  the  dis- 
tribution of  land  among  the  Norman  baronage, 
principles  which  aimed  in  the  main  at  reproducing 
the  discrete  character  of  the  greater  old  English 
estates.  Before  the  Conquest  no  such  compact 
block  of  territory  as  the  earldom  of  Cheshire  had 
ever  been  given  in  direct  possession  to  any  sub- 
ject. But  here,  as  in  the  case  of  the  powerful 
sheriffdoms  of  William's  time,  his  justification  lay 
in  his  immediate  necessities.  His  reason  for  the 
creation  of  the  western  earldoms  was  the  same  as 
that  which  prompted  his  successors  to  entrust  al- 
most unlimited  power  to  the  great  lords  on  the 
march  of  Wales.  It  was  absolutely  necessary  to 
secure  central  England  against  all  danger  from 
.  Welsh  invasion,  and  the  king  himself  had  neither 
the  time  nor  the  means  to  conquer  Wales  out- 
right. He  found  a  temporary  solution  by  placing 
on  the  debatable  border  three  earls,  strong  enough 
in  land  and  men  to  keep  the  Welsh  at  bay  and 
impelled  by  self-interest  to  carry  out  his  wishes. 
And  also  we  should  remember  that  it  was  only 
wise  to  guard  against  a  repetition  of  that  com- 
bination of  independent  Welsh  and  irreconcilable 
English  which  had  been  planned  in  1068;  the 
three  western  earldoms  were  all  created  before 
the  capture  of  Ely  in  1071  ended  the  series  of 

Administration  433 

national  risings  against  the  Conqueror.  Lastly, 
it  will  not  escape  notice  that  at  the  outset  all 
four  earldoms  were  given  to  men  whom  William 
knew  well  and  had  every  reason  to  trust.  Odo  of 
Kent  was  his  half-brother;  Roger  de  Montgomery 
and  William  Fitz  Osbern  were  young  men  already 
at  his  side  in  his  early  warfare  before  Domfront; 
Hugh  of  Chester  belonged  to  a  family  which  had 
held  household  positions  in  his  Norman  court. 
William  might  well  have  felt  that  he  could  not 
entrust  his  delegated  power  to  safer  hands  than 

Four  or  five  shires  only  were  placed  under  the 
control  of  separate  earls,  and  in  them  as  elsewhere 
in  England  the  old  English  system  of  local  govern- 
ment continued  with  but  little  change.  The  shire 
and  hundred  courts  continued  to  meet  to  transact 
the  judicial  and  administrative  business  of  their 
respective  districts  though  the  manorial  courts 
which  sprang  up  in  great  numbers  as  a  result  of 
the  Conquest  were  continually  withdrawing  more 
and  more  of  this  work.  -  We  know  very  little  of 
the  ordinary  procedure  of  the  local  courts;  it  is 
only  when  they  take  part  in  some  especially 
important  affair  such  as  the  Domesday  Inquest 
that  the  details  of  their  action  are  recorded.  An 
excellent  illustration  of  the  way  in  which  the 
machinery  of  the  shire  court  was  applied  to  the 
settlement  of  legal  disputes  is  afforded  by  the  fol- 
lowing record,  taken  from  the  history  of  the 
church  of  Rochester: 

434          William  the  Conqueror 

"  In  the  time  of  William  the  Great,  king  of  the  Eng- 
lish, father  of  William,  also  king  of  that  nation,  there 
arose  a  dispute  between  Gundulf ,  bishop  of  Rochester, 
and  Picot,  sheriff  of  Cambridge,  about  certain  land, 
situated  in  Preckenham,  but  belonging  to  Isleham, 
which  one  of  the  king's  sergeants,  called  Olchete,  had 
presumed  to  occupy  in  virtue  of  the  sheriffs  grant. 
For  the  sheriff  said.that  the  land  in  question  was  the 
king's,  but  the  bishop  declared  that  it  belonged  to  the 
church  of  St.  Andrew.  And  so  they  came  before  the 
king  who  ordered  that  all  the  men  of  that  shire  should 
be  brought  together,  that  by  their  verdict  [judicio], 
it  might  be  determined  to  whom  the  land  should 
rightly  belong.  Now  they,  when  assembled,  through 
fear  of  the  sheriff,  declared  the  land  to  belong  to  the 
king,  rather  than  to  Blessed  Andrew,  but  the  bishop 
of  Bayeux,  who  was  presiding  over  the  plea,  did  not 
believe  them,  and  directed  that  if  they  were  sure  that 
their  verdict  was  true,  they  should  choose  twelve  out 
of  their  number  to  confirm  with  an  oath  what  all  had 
said.  But  when  the  twelve  had  withdrawn  to  con- 
sider the  matter,  they  were  struck  with  terror  by  a 
message  from  the  sheriff  and  so,  on  returning,  they 
swore  that  to  be  true  which  had  been  declared  before. 
Now,  these  men  were  Edward  of  Chippenham,  Heruld 
and  Leofwine  'saca'  of  Exning,  Eadric  of  Isleham, 
Wulfwine  of  Landwade,  Ordmer  of  Belli'ngham,  and 
six  others  of  the  better  men  of  the  county.  After  all 
this,  the  land  remained  in  the  king's  hand.  But  in 
that  same  year  a  certain  monk,  called  Grim  came  to  the 
bishop  like  a  messenger  from  God,  for  when  he  heard 
what  the  Cambridge  men  had  sworn,  he  was  amazed, 
and  in  his  wrath  called  them  all  liars.  For  this  monk 
had  formerly  been  the  reeve  of  Freckenham,  and  had 

Administration  435 

received  services  and  customary  payments  from  the 
land  in  question  as  from  the  other  lands  belonging 
there,  while  he  had  had  under  him  in  that  manor 
one  of  the  very  men  who  had  made  the  sworn  con- 
firmation. When  the  bishop  of  Rochester  had  heard 
this,  he  went  to  the  bishop  of  Bayeux  and  told  him  the 
monk's  story  in  order.  Then  the  bishop  of  Bayeux 
summoned  the  monk  before  himself  and  heard  the  same 
tale  from  him,  after  which  he  summoned  one  of  those 
who  had  sworn,  who  instantly  fell  down  before  his  feet 
and  acknowledged  himself  to  be  a  liar.  Then  again  he 
summoned  the  man  who  had  sworn  first  of  all,  and  on 
being  questioned  he  likewise  confessed  his  perjury. 
Lastly,  he  ordered  the  sheriff  to  send  the  remaining 
jurors  to  London  to  appear  before  him  together  with 
twelve  others  of  the  better  men  of  the  county  to  con- 
firm the  oath  of  the  former  twelve.  To  the  same  place 
also,  he  summoned  many  of  the  greater  barons  of 
England,  and  when  all  were  assembled  in  London, 
judgment  was  given  both  by  French  and  English  that 
all  the  jurors  were  perjured  since  the  irmn  after  whom 
all  had  sworn  had  owned  himself  to  be  a  liar.  After 
a  condemnation  of  this  kind  the  bishop  of  Rochester 
kept  the  land,  as  was  just,  but  since  the  second  twelve 
jurors  wished  to  assert  that  they  did  not  agree  with 
those  who  had  first  sworn,  the  bishop  of  Bayeux  said 
that  they  should  prove  this  by  the  ordeal  of  iron. 
They  promised  to  do  so,  but  failed,  and  by  the  judg- 
ment of  the  other  men  of  their  county  they  paid 
three  hundred  pounds  to  the  king." l 

In  this  extract  we  get  a  vivid  picture  of  the  way 
in  which  the  two  systems  of  government,  Norman 
1  Wharton,  Anglia  Sacra,  i.,  339. 

43 6          William  the  Conqueror 

and  English,  worked  in  conjunction.  In  the  above 
transactions  the  matter  in  dispute  is  referred  for 
settlement  to  the  ancient  shire  court  of  Cam- 
bridgeshire, and  determined  by  the  oaths  of 
English  jurors,  but  the  procedure  is  a  Norman 
innovation,  and  it  is  the  Conqueror's  brother  who 
presides  over  the  plea.  The  terror  inspired  by  the 
sheriff  is  an  eloquent  commentary  on  the  vague 
complaints  of  the  chroniclers  concerning  the  op- 
pression of  the  king's  officers,  and  we  may  welcome 
this  casual  glimpse  into  the  relations  between  the 
English  folk  of  the  county  and  the  formidable 
president  of  their  court.  But  the  remaining  details 
of  the  story  may  well  be  left  to  explain  themselves. 
But  a  suit  of  this  kind  must  not  be  taken  as 
typical  of  the  ordinary  work  of  the  shire  court;  it 
was  not  every  day  that  it  had  to  discuss  the 
affairs  of  a  king  and  a  bishop.  It  was  the  excep- 
tional rank  of  the  parties  concerned  in  this  in- 
stance which  enabled  them  to  traverse  the  original 
judgment  of  the  shire  court  and  to  employ  a 
procedure  quite  alien  to  the  methods  of  the  Old 
English  local  moots.  So  far  as  we  can  see,  the 
practice  of  settling  disputes  by  the  verdict  of  a 
small  body  of  sworn  jurors  was  entirely  a  Norman 
innovation,  and  we  may  be  sure  that  it  would  not 
have  been  employed  in  this  case  if  the  veracity 
of  the  men  of  the  shire  had  not  been  called  in 
question.  Within  ten  years  of  the  date  of  our 
story  the  king's  fiscal  rights  all  over  England  were 
to  be  ascertained  by  the  inquisition  of  sworn 

Administration  437 

juries  in  the  Domesday  Inquest,  but  the  employ- 
ment of  this  method  in  ordinary  judicial  cases 
continued  to  be  highly  exceptional  down  to  the 
beginning  of  the  Angevin  period,  and  our  instance 
may  perhaps  daim  to  be  the  first  recorded  example 
of  its  use.  The  duty  of  the  shire  court  in  all  pleas 
of  the  kind,  to  which  it  would  have  been  confined 
in  all  probability  in  the  above  case  if  the  king  had 
not  been  attracted  within  the  dispute,  was  simply 
to  declare  the  customary  law  which  related  to  the 
matter  in  hand.  In  principle,  a  judgment  of  this 
kind  is  entirely  different  from  the  verdict  on  oath 
given  by  men  selected  for  their  local  knowledge 
as  were  the  jurors  in  our  story:  if  carried  out 
honestly  the  result  would  be  the  same  in  either 
case — the  land  would  be  assigned  to  the  proper 
person;  but  whereas  this  would  only  follow  in- 
cidentally if  inevitably  from  the  unsworn  judg- 
ment of  the  court  as  a  whole,  the  sworn  verdict 
would  consist  of  an  actual  award.  The  latter 
principle  produced  the  Angevin  juries  of  present- 
ment; the  former  principle  continued  to  underlie 
the  action  of  the  shire  and  hundred  courts  so  long 
as  they  exercised  judicial  functions.  The  interest 
of  the  Isleham  case  above  lies  in  its  transitional 
character:  it  shows  us  the  sworn  jury  used  as  a 
secondary  resort  after  the  accustomed  practice 
of  the  shire  court  had  failed  to  give  satisfaction; 
already  in  1077  it  is  available  for  the  amendment 
of  wrongs  arising  "  pro  defectu  recti, "  on  the  part 
of  the  domesmen  of  the  local  assemblies. 

438          William  the  Conqueror 

But  just  as  the  introduction  of  the  jury 
bringing  a  new  procedure  into  competition  with  the' 
antiquated  methods  of  the  local  courts,  so  a 
quite  different  set  of  causes  was  cutting  at  the 
root  of  their  influence.  Centuries  before  the 
Conquest  considerable  powers  of  jurisdiction  had 
been  placed  in  private,  generally  ecclesiastical, 
hands,  but  the  gradual  extension  of  the  sphere  of 
private  justice,  until  it  became  an  integral  part 
of  the  whole  manorial  organisation,  was  due  to  the 
feudal  principles  which  triumphed  in  1066.  Pri- 
vate jurisdiction,  as  it  existed  in  the  Conqueror's 
day,  represents  the  blending  of  at  least  three 
distinct  principles.  In  the  first  place,  the  king 
can  confer  jurisdictional  rights  on  whomsoever  he 
pleases;  from  this  point  of  view  a  private  court 
will  represent  a  portion  of  royal  power  in  the 
hands  of  a  subject.  But  in  the  second  place,  the 
king  himself  is  only  the  first  of  a  number  of  men 
who  possess  these  rights  in  virtue  of  their  rank;  it 
is  probable  that  the  political  theory  of  the  eleventh 
century  would  allow  that  a  great  man  was  natur- 
ally possessed  of  such  powers  of  justice  as  were 
appropriate  to  his  personal  status,  though  it 
would  be  unable  to  give  a  rational  explanation 
of  the  fact.  And  then  even  in  the  Conqueror's 
time  there  can  be  traced  the  idea,  the  prevalence 
of  which  was  destined  to  cover  England  with 
manorial  courts,  that  the  tenurial  relation  be- 
tween a  lord  and  his  tenant  gave  the  former 
jurisdictional  powers  over  the  latter;  that,  in- 

Administration  439 

dependency  of  a  royal  grant,  or  of  his  personal 
rank,  a  lord  was  entitled  to  hold  a  court  for  his 
"men";  that  the  economic  relation  between 
landlord  and  tenant  produced  a  corresponding  tie 
in  the  sphere  of  jurisdiction.  It  is  the  first  two 
of  these  principles  which  produced  the  "sake  and 
soke"  of  Anglo-Saxon  law,  it  is  the  last  which 
explains  the  extension  of  manorial  justice  in  the 
century  following  the  Conquest.1  It  is  worth 
while  making  this  classification,  for  it  reveals  one 
of  the  main  lines  of  divergence  between  English 
and  French  law  in  the  Middle  Ages.  That  which 
in  England  was  the  least  persistent  of  our  three 
principles,  the  element  of  personal  rank,  became 
in  France  the  basis  of  the  famous  classification  of 
jurisdictional  powers  into  "haut,  moyen,  et  bas 
justice,"  which  endured  until  the  Revolution, 
and  the  main  reason  for  this  difference  lies  in  the 
circumstances  of  the  Norman  Conquest.  By  that 
event,  whatever  the  explanation  of  private  justice 
which  may  have  passed  current  among  those  who 
troubled  themselves  about  such  matters,  all  such 
powers  proceeded  directly  or  indirectly  from  the 
king;  directly  when  the  Conqueror  made  an 
explicit  grant  of  "sake  and  soke"  to  a  baron, 
indirectly  if  the  latter  claimed  his  court  as  pro- 
ceeding from  his  tenure  of  his  land,  for  the  land 
itself  was  held  of  the  king  who  had  granted  it  to 
him.  Here  then,  in  the  sphere  of  local  justice,  we 
see  the  union  of  Norman  and  English  ideas;  the 
i  Maitland,  Domesday  Book  and  Beyond,  80-83. 

440          William  the  Conqueror 

judicial  power  which  results  from  the  facts  of 
tenure  is  added  to  the  judicial  power  which  is 
exercised  in  virtue  of  the  king's  grant. 

It  should  not  be  thought  that  the  Norman 
barons,  in  their  seats  across  the  Channel,  had 
exercised  jurisdictional  powers  in  advance  of 
those  possessed  by  the  English  nobles  and  thegns 
whom  they  were  destined  to  displace  The  fact 
that  the  grants  of  private  justice  which  the  Con- 
queror made  to  his  followers  in  England  were  set 
forth  in  the  same  conventional  phrases  as  Edward 
the  Confessor  would  have  employed  in  like  case, 
may  be  set  down  to  William's  desire  to  preserve 
the  forms  of  Old  English  law;  but  there  is  no  doubt 
that  the  Norman  barons  were  quite  content  to  ac- 
cept the  Anglo-Saxon  formulas  as  a  satisfactory- 
expression  of  the  jurisdictional  powers  which  they 
were  to  enjoy.  In  fact,  the  latter  were  ample 
enough.  Thus,  when  the  Conqueror  confirmed 
his  "customs"  to  the  abbot  of  Ely,  these  included 
"sake  ajad  soke,  toll  and  team  and  infangenethef, 
hamsocne  and  grithbrice,  fihtwite  and  fyrdwite 
within  boroughs  and  without,  and  the  penalties 
for  all  other  crimes  which  are  emendable  on  his 
land  and  over  his  men,  as  he  held  them  on  the  day 
when  King  Edward  was  alive  and  dead. "  *  Terms 
like  these  cover  nearly  the  whole  field  of  "  civil  and 
criminal  justice."  Sake  and  soke  may  be  con- 
strued as  the  right  to  hold  a  court;  toll  explains 
itself;  "team"  implies  that  persons  might  be 

»  Charter  of  William  I.,  Monasticon,  i.f  477. 


Administration  441 

"vouched  to  warranty"  in  the  court,  a  process 
which  is  too  technical  to  be  explained  here,  but  the 
grant  of  which  made  a  court  capable  of  entertain- 
ing suits  arising  out  of  the  transfer  of  land;  in- 
fangenethef "  is  the  right  of  trying  and  executing 
thieves  taken  on  one's  land;   "hamsocne"   (or 
rather  "  hamfare  ")  is  the  breach  of  a  man's  house ; 
"grithbrice"  is  the  violation  of    the  grantees' 
special  peace;  "fihtwite"  is  the  fine  for  a  general 
breach  of  the  peace;  "fyrdwite"  is  the  fine  for 
failure  to  appear  in  the  national  militia,  the  fyrd. 
Privileges  like  these,  within  the  area  to  which  they 
are   applicable,   empower   the    grantees'    court 
to  take  cognisance  of  all  crimes  and  misdemean- 
ours which  might  be  expected  to  occur  in  the 
ordinary  course  of  events;  the  Isle  of  Ely  and 
some  dozens  of  external  manors  were  practically 
withdrawn  altogether  from  the  national  system  of 
justice.    We  have  no  reason  to  suppose  that  the 
average  baron  in  Normandy  was  endowed  with 
anything  like  these  powers,  nor  need  we  suppose 
that  grants  of  such  wide  application  were  very 
frequently  made  to  the  conquerors  of  England; 
but  when,  two  years  after  the  date  of  Domesday 
Book,  we  find  Roger  de  Busli — a  great  baron  cer- 
tianly,  but  not  belonging  absolutely  to  the  first 
rank— granting  to  his  monks  of  Blyth  "  sac  and 
soke,  tol  and  team  and  infangenethef,  iron  and 
ditch  and  gallows  with  all  other  privileges  [liber- 
tates]  which  I  formerly  held  of  the  king,  "*  \ve  can 

i  Foundation  charter  of  Blyth  Priory,  Monasfoon>  iv.f  fl?j. 

442  William  the  Conqueror 

see  that  the  feudalisation  of  justice  had  gone  far 
by  the  time  of  King  William's  death. 

We  may  then  fairly  inquire  what  was  the  relation 
which  these  new  manorial  courts  bore  to  the  old 
national  courts  which  they  were  destined  to  sup- 
plant. With  reference  to  the  hundred  and  shire 
assemblies,  the  answer  is  fairly  simple:  the  two 
systems  of  jurisdiction  were  concurrent.  The  hun- 
dred court,  we  must  remember,  was  in  no  sense 
inferior  to  the  shire  court,  and  in  the  same  way  the 
manorial  court  was  in  no  sense  inferior  to  either 
of  these  bodies;  it  rested  with  the  individual 
litigant  before  which  of  them  he  should  bring 
his  plea,  with  this  most  important  exception — that 
the  lord  of  the  party  impleaded  could  if  he  wished 
"  daim  his  court,"  and  so  appropriate  the  profits 
of  the  trial.  Here  was  a  most  powerful  force 
steadily  drawing  business  away  from  the  shires  and 
hundreds,  and  attracting  it  within  the  purview  of 
the  manor.  But  then  the  wishes  of  the  peasantry 
told  in  the  same  direction:  the  manorial  court  was 
dose  at  hand;  it  was  composed  of  neighbours  who 
knew  each  others'  concerns,  and  were  constantly 
associated  in  the  common  agricultural  work  of  the 
vill;  it  gratified  the  tendencies  towards  local  isola- 
tion, which  were  pre-eminently  strong  in  the  early 
Middle  Ages.  The  manorial  court  supplied  justice 
at  home,  and  we  should  remember  how  many  hin- 
drances beset  recourse  to  the  hundreds  and  shires. 
In  all  Staffordshire  there  were  only  five  hundreds ; 
in  all  Leicestershire  only  four  wapentakes;  the 

Administration  443 

prosecution  of  a  suit  in  any  of  these  courts  must 
have  meant  grievous  weariness  and  loss,  the  es- 
tablishment of  a  manorial  court  must  have  meant 
an  immediate  alleviation  of  the  law's  delay.  He 
would  have  been  an  exceptionally  far-sighted 
villein  who  in  1086  could  foresee  that  the  con- 
venient local  court  would  eventually  be  the  agent 
by  which  his  descendants  would  be  thrown  into 
dependence  on  the  will  of  the  lord,  with  no  other 
protection  than  the  traditional  and  unwritten 
"  custom  of  the  manor" ;  that  the  establishment  of 
the  lord's  justice  would  ultimately  exclude  all 
reference  to  the  more  independent  if  more  an- 
tiquated justice  of  the  men  of  the  hundred  of  the 
shire,  on  the  part  of  the  lesser  folk  of  his  vill. 

One  question  connected  with  the  rise  of  manorial 
courts  deserves  attention  here — did  they  displace 
any  court  proper  to  the  vill  as  a  whole,  indepen- 
dently of  its  manorial  aspect?  It  is  dear  that 
every  now  and  again  the  men  of  the  vill  must 
have  met,  if  only  to  regulate  the  details  of  its 
open-field  husbandry.  But  whether  such  a  meet- 
ing had  any  formal  constitution  or  judicial 
.  functions— whether,  that  is,  it  was  a  "township- 
moot,"  in  the  accepted  sense  of  the  words1 — is 
excessively  doubtful.  The  fact  that  we  hear 
nothing  definitely  about  it  in  the  documents  of 
the  Anglo-Saxon  period  is  not  quite  conclusive 

i  There  is  some  evidence  to  suggest  that  the  lord  of  a  vill 
could  cause  a  court  to  be  held  there  by  his  steward.  This, 
however,  is  the  result  of  seignorial,  not  communal,  ideas. 

444          William  the  Conqueror 

against  its  existence;  it  is  more  to  the  point  that 
the  hundred  moot  seems  to  be  the  lowest  stage 
reached  by  the  descending  series  of  national  courts. 
It  is  probable,  therefore,  that  the  ordinary  town- 
ship never  possessed  any  court  other  than  that 
which  belonged  to  it  in  its  manorial  aspect. 

We  have  seen  enough  to  know  that  the  jurisdic- 
tional  and  economic  aspects  of  feudalism  were 
intimately  connected:  the  manorial  court  was  the 
normal  complement  of  the  average  manor.  No 
less  closely  associated  in  practice  were  the  military 
and  tenurial  elements  of  the  feudal  system,  and 
upon  a  superficial  view  of  this  system  it  is  these 
latter  elements  which  rise  into  greatest  prominence. 
Nor  is  this  altogether  unjust,  for,  although  it 
is  not  probable  that  any  change  induced  by  the 
Norman  Conquest  so  profoundly  affected  English 
social  life  as  did  the  universal  establishment  of  pri- 
vate jurisdiction,  yet  the  introduction  of  military 
tenures,  and  the  creation  of  a  feudal  army  rooted 
in  the  soil  of  England,  are  phenomena  of  the  first 
importance,  and  the  form  which  they  assumed  in 
the  course  of  the  next  century  was  due  in  essence 
to  the  personal  action  of  the  Conqueror  himself, 
and  to  the  political  necessities  of  his  position. 

The  rapidity  with  which  England  had  been 
conquered  had  demonstrated  clearly  enough  the 
inefficiency  of  the  Anglo-Saxon  military  system, 
and  the  changes  introduced  in  this  matter  by 
King  William  were  revolutionary,  both  in  detail? 
and  in  principle.  The  mflitary  force  at  the  dispo- 

Administration  445 

sal  of  Edward  the  Confessor  had  consisted  of  two 
parts :  first,  the  fyrd  or  native  militia,  based  on  the 
primitive  liability  of  every  free  t^an  to  serve  for 
the  defence  of  his  county,  and  secondly  a  body 
of  housecarles,  professional  men-at-arms,  who 
served  for  pay  and  were  therefore  tinder  better 
discipline  and  available  for  longer  periods  of  service 
than  the  rustic  soldiery  of  the  shires.  There  is 
no  good  evidence  to  prove  that  the  Anglo-Saxon 
thegn  was  burdened  with  any  military  obligation 
other  than  that  which  rested  on  him  as  a  free  man, 
but  there  are  certain  passages  which  suggest  that, 
in  the  latter  days  of  the  old  English  state,  the  king 
in  practice  would  only  call  out  one  man  from 
each  five  hides  of  land,  and  that  he  would  hold 
his  more  powerful  subjects  responsible  for  the  due 
appearance  of  their  dependants.  If  this  were  an 
attempt  to  create  a  small  but  efficient  host  out  of 
the  great  body  of  the  fyrd,  it  came  too  late  to  save 
the  situation  and,  so  far  as  our  evidence  goes,  it 
was  the  professional  housecarles  who  bore  the 
brunt  of  the  great  battles  of  1066.  By  derivation 
at  least  the  housecarle  must  have  been  a  man  who 
dwelt  in  his  lord's  house  as  a  personal  retainer; 
and,  although  we  know  that  men  of  this  class  had 
received  grants  of  land  from  the  last  native  kings, 
there  is  no  reason  to  believe  that  their  holdings 
were  conditional  on  their  services,  or  indeed  that 
they  were  other  than  personal  marks  of  favour, 
quite  unconnected  with  the  military  duty  of  the 

446          William  the  Conqueror 

The  essential  features  of  the  Norman  system 
were  entirely  different  to  this.  Each  tenant  in 
chief  of  the  crown,  as  the  condition  on  which  he 
held  his  lands,  was  required  to  maintain,  equip,  and 
hold  ready  for  immediate  service  a  definite  num- 
ber of  knights,  and  the  extent  of  his  liability  in 
this  matter  was  not,  save  in  the  roughest  sense, 
proportional  to  his  territorial  position,  but  was 
determined  solely  by  the  will  of  the  king.  Trans- 
actions of  this  kind  most  probably  took  place  at 
the  moment  when  each  tenant  in  chief  was  put 
into  possession  of  his  fief,  and  their  observance 
on  the  part  of  the  grantee  was  guaranteed  by 
the  penalty  of  total  forfeiture  in  the  event  of  his 
appearance  at  the  king's  muster  with  less  than 
his  full  complement  of  knights.  His  military 
liability  once  ascertained,  a  tenant  would  com- 
monly proceed  to  enfeof  some  of  his  knights  on 
portions  of  his  estate,  keeping  the  remainder  in 
attendance  on  his  person.  As  time  went  on  the 
number  of  landless  knights  continually  became 
less  and  less,  and  by  the  end  of  the  Conqueror's 
reign,  the  greater  part  of  every  fief  was  divided 
into  knight's  fees,  whose  holders  were  bound  by 
the  circumstances  of  their  tenure  to  serve  with 
their  lord  in  the  discharge  of  the  military  service 
which  he  owed  the  crown.  No  definite  quantity 
of-  land,  measured  either  by  assessment  or  value, 
constituted  the  knight's  fee;  but,  judging  from 
the  evidence  of  a  later  period,  it  seems  certain  that 
each  tenant  in  chief  was  burdened  with  the  service 

Administration  447 

of  a  round  number  of  knights,  twenty,  thirty,  or 
the  like,  and  it  is  quite  possible  that  these  round 
figures  were  influenced  by  the  Norman  constdbu- 
laria  of  ten  knights,  a  military  unit  which  we 
know  to  have  prevailed  across  the  Channel  before 
the  conquest  of  England.1 

But  the  work  of  subinfeudatipn  once  started, 
no  limit  in  theory  or  practice  was  ever  set  to  it  in 
England,  and  in  the  earliest  period  of  Norman 
rule  we  find  knights,  who  held  of  a  tenant-in-chief , 
subletting  part  of   their  land  to  other  knights 
and  the  latter  continuing  the  process  at  their  own 
pleasure.    In  Leicestershire,  for  example,  the  vill 
of  Lubbenham  was  held  of  the  king  by  the  arch- 
bishop of  York,  and  had  been  let  by  him  to  a  cer- 
tain Walchelin,  who  had  enfeoffed  with  it  a  man 
of  his  own  called  Robert,  who  had  granted  three 
carucates  of  land  in  the  manor  to  an  unnamed 
knight  as  his  tenant.    But  this  is  an  exceptional 
case,  for  it  is  unusual  for  Domesday  to  reveal 
mote  than  two  lords  in  ascending  order  between 
the  peasant  and  the  king.    A  process  of  the  same 
kind  had  not  been  unknown  in  England  in  the 
time  of  King  Edward;  churches  had  been  leasing 
land  to  their  thegns;  and  thegns,  whom  a  Norman 
lawyer  would  consider  to  hold  of  the  king,  had 
been  capable  of  subletting  their  estates  to  their 
dependants.    But  the  legal  principles  which  under- 

*  Round,  Feudal  England,  225-314,  has  given  the  clearest 
account  of  the  introduction  and  development  of  knight  service 
in  England. 

448          William  the  Conqueror 

lay  dependant  land  tenure  had  never  been  worked 
out  in  England,  as  they  had  been  elaborated  in 
Normandy  before  the  Conquest,  and  in  two  im- 
portant respects  at  least  there  was  a  marked 
difference  between  the  old  and  the  new  system. 
On  the  one  hand  it  is  extremely  doubtful  whether 
Anglo-Saxon  law  had  developed  the  idea  that  all 
land,  not  in  the  king's  immediate  possession,  was 
held  directly  or  indirectly  of  the  crown;  and  in  the 
second  place  the  old  English  system  of  land  ten- 
ure was  far  slacker  and  less  coherent  than  its  Nor- 
man rival.  Domesday  Book  contains  frequent 
references  to  men  who  could  leave  one  lord  and 
seek  another  at  will,  and  this  want  of  stability 
in  what  was  perhaps  the  most  important  division 
of  private  law  meant  a  corresponding  weakness 
in  the  whole  of  the  Anglo-Saxon  body  politic. 
Here  as  elsewhere  the  Norman  work  made  for  co- 
hesion, permanence,  and  theoretical  consistency. 

It  was  also  an  innovation  upon  accepted  prac- 
tice that  the  Conqueror  extended  to  ecclesiastical 
estates  the  military  responsibilities  which  he  im- 
posed upon  lay  fiefs.  Long  before  the  Confessor's 
time,  the  churches  had  been  subletting  land  to 
their  thegns  on  condition  that  the  latter  should  do 
the  military  service  which  the  said  churches  owed 
to  the  king;  but  the  duty  in  question  merely 
represented  the  amount  of  f yrd  service  due  from 
the  lands  of  each  religious  house,  and  was  in  no 
sense  the  result  of  any  bargain  between  the  king 
and  the  latter.  On  the  other  hand,  the  number 


Administration  449 

of  knights  maintained  by  an  ecclesiastical  tenant 
of  King  William  depended  in  the  last  resort  upon 
the  terms  which  that  tenant,  whether  bishop 
or  monastery,  had  made  with  the  new  sovereign. 
The  Conqueror  could  not  venture  to  dispossess  a 
native  religious  house  as  he  could  dispossess  a 
native  thegn  or  earl ;  but  he  could  insist  that  such 
a  body  should  make  its  contribution  towards  the 
new  army  which  he  was  planting  on  the  soil  of 
England,  and  he  could  determine  the  minimum 
amount  of  the  contribution  in  each  case.  So  far 
as  our  evidence  goes,  the  knight  service  demanded 
from  a  monastery  was  fixed  in  a  much  more 
arbitrary  manner  than  that  imposed  on  a  lay 
tenant;  a  baron's  military  liabilities  would  greatly 
correspond  in  the  main,  though  very  roughly, 
with  the  extent  of  his  fief,  but  no  principle  of  the 
kind  can  have  been  applied  to  the  burden  laid 
upon  the  church  lands.  The  abbeys  of  Peter- 
borough and  Abingdon  were  bound  to  supply 
sixty  and  thirty  knights  respectively,  but  St. 
Albans  escaped  with  a  servitwm  debitum  of  six,  and 
St.  Benet  of  Hulme  was  only  debited  with  three. 
It  is  more  than  probable  that  political  conditions 
went  far  towards  producing  these  violent  dis- 
crepancies; a  monastery,  like  Peterborough,  which 
had  displayed  strong  nationalist  tendencies,  might 
fairly  enough  be  penalised  by  the  imposition  of  a 
heavy  burden  of  service  towards  the  maintenance 
of  the  foreign  rule.  On  the  other  hand,  the  pro- 
cess in  question  was  regarded  in  a  very  different 

45°         William  the  Conqueror 

light  by  the  Norman  abbots  who  were  gradually 
introduced  in  the  course  of  the  reign,  and  by  the 
English  monks  placed  under  their  government. 
To  the  former  the  creation  of  knights'  fees  meant 
a  golden  opportunity  of  providing  for  their  neces- 
sitous kinsmen  beyond  the  Channel;  to  the  latter 
the  withdrawal  of  land  from  the  immediate  pur- 
poses of  the  church  f orboded  an  ultimate  shrink- 
age in  the  daily  supply  of  beef  and  beer.  The  local 
chronicler  of  Abingdon  abbey  tells  us  sorrowfully 
how  Abbot  Ethelhelm  sent  over  into  Normandy 
for  his  kinsmen,  and  invested  them  with  the 
possessions  of  the  monastery  to  such  an  extent 
that  in  one  year  he  granted  seventy  manors  to 
them,  which  were  still  lacking  to  the  church  a 
hundred  years  later. 

Reference  should  perhaps  be  made  here  to 
the  difficult  question  of  the  actual  numbers  of  the 
territorial  army  which  rose  at  King  William's 
bidding  upon  the  conquered  land.  In  a  matter 
of  this  kind  the  statements  of  professed  chroni- 
clers must  be  wholly  ignored;  they  represent  mere 
guesswork,  and  show  a  total  insensibility  to  the 
military  and  geographical  possibilities  of  the  case. 
Several  attempts,  based  upon  the  safer  evidence 
of  records,  have  recently  been  made  to  estimate 
the  total  number  of  knights  whom  the  king  had 
the  right  to  summon  to  his  banners  at  any  given 
moment,  and  it  is  probable  that  the  results  of 
such  inquiries  represent  a  sufficiently  close  ap- 
proximation to  the  truth  of  the  matter.  On  the 

Administration  451 

whole,  then,  we  may  say  that  the  total  knight 
service  of  England  was  fixed  at  something  near 
five  thousand  knights,  of  whom  784  have  been 
assigned  to  religious  tenants-in-chief,  3534  have 
been  set  down  as  the  contribution  of  lay  barons, 
the  remainder  representing  the  allowance  properly 
to  be  made  for  the  deficiencies  in  our  sources  of 
information.1  The  question  is  important,  not 
only  for  the  influence  which  tenure  by  knight 
service  exercised  on  the  later  English  land-law, 
but  also  for  its  bearing  upon  the  cognate  prob- 
lem of  the  numbers  engaged  in  the  battle  of 
Hastings,  which  has  already  received  discussion 

From  knight  service  we  may  pass  naturally 
enough  to  the  kindred  duty  of  castle-guard.  The 
castles  which  had  arisen  in  England  by  the  time 
of  the  Conqueror's  death  belong  to  one  or  other 
of  two  great  classes.  On  the  one  hand,  there  was 
the  royal  fortress,  regarded  as  an  element  in  the 
system  of  national  defence,  whether  against 
foreign  invasion  or  native  revolt;  to  the  second 
class  belong  the  castles  which  were  merely  the 
private  residence  of  their  lord.  In  castles  of  the 
former  class,  which  were  mostly  situated  in 
boroughs  and  along  the  greater  roadways,  the 
governor  was  merely  the  king's  lieutenant; 
Henry  de  Beaumont  and  William  Peverd  were 

1  Feudal  England,  as  quoted  above,  page  447.  See  also 
Morris,  Welsh  Wars  oj  Edward,  i.,  36,  aiguing  for  a  total  of 

452          William  the  Conqueror 

placed  in  command  of  the  castles  of  Warwick  and 
Nottingham  respectively,  in  order  that  they 
might  hold  those  towns  on  the  king's  behalf. 
This  being  the  case,  it  was  only  natural  that 
garrison  duty  as  well  as  service  in  the  field  should 
be  demanded  from  the  knights  whom  the  barons  of 
the  neighbourhood  were  required  to  supply;  the 
knights  of  the  abbot  of  Abingdon  were  required 
to  go  on  guard  at  Windsor  Castle.  Of  the  seventy 
castles  which  we  may  reasonably  assume  to  have 
existed  in  1087,  twenty-four  belong  to  this  class, 
and  twenty  of  the  latter  are  situated  in  some  bor- 
ough or  other,  and  this  close  connection  of  borough 
and  royal  castle  is  something  more  than  a  fortu- 
itous circumstance.  In  Anglo-Saxon  times,  it  is 
well  ascertained  that  each  normal  borough  had 
been  the  military  centre  of  the  district  in  which 
it  lay,  and  had  in  fact  been  the  natural  base 
of  operations  in  the  work  of  local  defence.  The 
Normans  brought  with  them  new  ideas  on 
the  subject  of  defensive  strategy,  but  the  geo- 
graphical and  economic  conditions  which  gave 
to  the  boroughs  their  military  importance  in 
early  times  were  not  annulled  by  the  Norman 
Conquest;  and  it  would  still  have  been  desirable 
to  safeguard  the  growing  centres  of  trade  from 
external  attacks,  even  if  it  had  not  been  expedient 
in  Norman  eyes  to  set  a  curb  upon  the  national 
spirit  among  the  dwellers  in  the  English  towns. 
No  general  rule  can  be  laid  down  as  to  the  custody 
of  these  royal  castles;  it  was  not  infrequent  for 

Administration  453 

them  to  be  held  on  the  king's  behalf  by  the  sheriff 
of  the  shire  in  which  they  might  be  situated,  but 
the  Conqueror  would  entrust  his  fortress  to  any 
noble  of  sufficient  military  skill  and  loyalty,  and, 
as  in  the  cases  of  Warwick  and  Nottingham,  a  ten- 
ure which  was  originally  mere  guardianship  might 
pass  in  the  course  of  time  into  direct  possession. 

The  larger  class  of  private  castles  is  less  im- 
portant from  the  institutional  standpoint.  In 
Normandy  the  duke  had  the  right  to  garrison  the 
castles  of  his  nobility  with  troops  of  his  own, 
but  the  Conqueror  does  not  seem  to  have  extended 
this  principle  to  England.  It  is  very  probable 
that  he  would  insist  on  his  own  consent  being 
given  to  any  projected  fortification  on  the  part 
of  his  feudatories,  but  so  long  as  his  rule  was 
threatened  by  English  revolt,  rather  than  by 
Norman  disloyalty,  he  would  not  be  greatly 
concerned  to  limit  the  castle-building  tendencies 
of  his  followers.  On  the  Welsh  border,  for  exam- 
ple, where  the  creation  of  a  strong  line  of  castles 
was  an  essential  part  of  the  business  of  frontier 
defence,  the  work  of  fortification  must  largely 
have  been  left  to  the  discretion  of  the  earls  of 
Shrewsbury  and  Chester,  and  to  the  enterprise  of 
the  first  generation  of  marcher  lords.  East  of  a 
line  ,drawn  north  and  south  through  Gloucester, 
lie  nearly  half  of  the  total  number  of  castles 
which  we  can  infer  to  have  been  built  during  the 
Conqueror's  reign,  but  only  fourteen  of  them 
were  in  private  hands. 

454         William  the  Conqueror 

Underneath  all  these  violent  changes  in  the 
higher  departments  of  the  military  art,  the  old 
native  institution  of  the  fyrd  lived  on.  Two 
years  after  Hastings,  at  the  dangerous  crisis 
occasioned  by  the  revolt  of  Exeter,  we  find  the 
Conqueror  calling  out  the  local  militia,  and  at 
intervals  during  his  reign  the  national  force  con- 
tinues to  be  summoned,  not  only  by  the  king 
but  by  his  lieutenants,  such  as  Geoffrey  of  Cou- 
tances  at  the  time  of  the  relief  of  Montacute.  It 
is  not  necessary  to  assume  that  William  had 
prescience  of  a  day  when  an  English  levy  might 
be  a  useful  counterbalance  to  a  feudal  host  in 
rebellion;  he  inherited  the  military  as  well  as  the 
financial  and  judiciary  powers  of  his  kinsman 
King  Edward,  and  obedience  would  naturally  be 
paid  to  his  summons  by  everybody  who  did  not 
wish  to  be  treated  as  a  rebel  on  the  spot.  It  does 
not  seem  that  the  Conqueror  materially  altered 
the  constitution  or  equipment  of  the  fyrd;  in  fact 
he  had  no  need  to  do  this,  for  its  organisation  and 
armament,  obsolete  as  they  were  in  comparison 
with  those  of  the  feudal  army,  still  enabled  it 
to  fight  with  revolted  Englishmen  or  Scotch 
raiders  on  more  or  less  of  an  equality.  For  the 
serious  business  of  a  campaign  the  Conqueror  would 
rely  on  the  small  but  efficient  force  of  knights  at 
his  command,  and  it  is  to  be  noted  that  no  barrier 
of  racial  prejudice  prevented  the  absorption  of 
Englishmen  of  sufficient  standing  into  the  knightly 
class.  The  number  of  Englishmen  who  are  entered 

Administration  455 

in  Domesday  Book,  on  a  level  wth  the  Norman 
tenants  of  a  great  baron,  is  considerable,  and  it 
is  by  no  means  improbable  that,  below  the  surface 
of  our  records,  a  process  had  been  going  on  which 
had  robbed  the  heterogeneous  militia  of  Kong 
Edward's  day  of  its  wealthier  and  more  efficient 
elements.  Many  a  thegn  who  would  formerly 
have  joined  the  muster  of  his  shire  with  an  equip- 
ment little,  if  at  all,  superior  to  that  of  the  peas- 
antry of  his  neighbourhood,  will  have  received  his 
land  as  the  undertenant  of  some  baron,  and  have 
learned  to  adopt  the  military  methods  of  his 
Norman  fellows.  We  cannot  define  with  ac- 
curacy the  stages  by  which  this  process  did  its 
work,  but  when  the  time  came  for  Henry  II.  to 
reorganise  the  local  militia,  it  was  with  a  force  of 
yeomen  and  burgesses  that  he  had  to  deal. 

We  have  now  given  a  brief  examination  to  the 
main  departments  of  administration,  military 
and  political,  as  they  existed  tinder  the  Con- 
queror. Two  general  conclusions  may  perhaps  be 
suggested  as  a  result  of  our  survey.  The  first  is 
that,  throughout  the  field  of  government,  revolu- 
tionary changes  in  all  essential  matters  have 
been  taking  place  under  a  specious  continuity 
of  external  forms.  The  second  is,  that  the  Con- 
queror's work  is  in  no  respect  final;  the  shock  of 
his  conquest  had  wrecked  the  obsolescent  organi- 
sation of  the  old  English  state,  but  the  develop- 
ment of  the  new  order  on  which  his  rule  was 
founded-  was  a  task  reserved  for  his  descendants. 

4S6         William  the  Conqueror 

The  Curia  Regis,  which  attended  King  William 
as  he  passed  over  his  dominions,  was  a  body  the 
like  of  which  had  not  been  seen  in  King  Edward's 
day,  but  it  was  a  body  very  unlike  the  group  of 
trained  administrators  who  transacted  the  busi- 
ness of  government  under  the  presidency  of 
Henry  II.  The  feudal  host  in  England  owed  its 
being  to  the  Conqueror,  but  no  sooner  was  it 
firmly  seated  on  the  land  than  the  introduction  of 
scutage  under  Henry  I.  meant  that  the  king 
would  henceforth  only  allow  the  Conqueror's  host 
to  survive  in  so  far  as  it  might  subserve  the 
purposes  of  the  royal  exchequer.  King  William's 
destructive  work  had  been  carried  out  with  un- 
exampled thoroughness,  order,  and  rapidity,  but 
it  was  inevitable  that  the  process  of  reconstruction 
which  he  began  should  far  outrun  the  narrow 
limits  of  any  single  life. 

Penny  of  William  I. 



THE  eventful  life  of  the  Conqueror  was  within 
two  years  of  its  dose  when  he  decreed  the 
compilation  of  that  record  which  was  to  be  the 
lasting  monument  of  his  rule  in  England.  It  is 
probable  that  if  due  regard  be  paid  to  the  condi- 
tions of  its  execution  Domesday  Book  may  claim  to 
rank  as  the  greatest  record  of  medieval  Europe; 
certainly  it  deserves  such  preference  among  the 
legal  documents  of  England.  For,  while  we  ad- 
mire the  systematic  treatment  which  the  great 
survey  accords  to  county  after  county,  we  must 
also  remember  that  no  sovereign  before  William 
could  have  had  the  power  to  draw  such  wealth  of 
information  from  all  England  between  the  Chan- 
nel and  the  Tees;  and  that  the  thousands  of  dry 
figures  which  are  deliberately  accumulated  in  the 
pages  of  Domesday  represent  the  result  of  the  great- 
est catastrophe  which  has  ever  affected  the  na- 
tional history.  Domesday  Book,  indeed,  has  no 
peer,  because  it  was  the  product  of  unique  circum- 
stances. Other  conquerors  have  been  as  powerM 
as  William,  and  as  exigent  of  their  royal  rights;  no 
other  conqueror  has  so  consistently  regarded  him- 
self as  the  strict  successor  of  the  native  kings  who 
were  before  him;  above  all,  no  other  conqueror 


458          William  the  Conqueror 

has  been  at  pains  to  devise  a  record  of  the  order  of 
things  which  he  himself  destroyed,  nor  even,  like 
William,  of  so  much  of  it  as  was  relevant  to  the 
more  efficient  conduct  of  his  own  administration. 
Domesday  Book  is  the  perfect  expression  of  the 
Norman  genius  for  the  details  of  government. 

It  is  needless  to  say  that  William  had  no  inten- 
tion of  enlightening  posterity  as  to  the  social  and 
economic  condition  of  his  kingdom.  His  aim  was 
severely  practical.  How  it  struck  a  contempo- 
rary may  be  gathered  from  that  well-known  pas- 
sage in  which  the  Peterborough  chronicler  opens 
the  long  series  of  commentaries  on  Domesday  by 
recording  his  impressions  of  the  actual  survey: 

11  After  this  the  kii^g  held  a  great  council  and  very 
deep  speech  with  his  wise  men  about  this  land,  how 
it  was  peopled  and  by  what  men.  Then  he  sent  his 
men  into  every  shire  all  over  England  and  caused  it 
to  be  ascertained  how  many  hundred  hides  were  in 
the  shire  and  what  land  the  king  had,  and  what  stock 
on  the  land,  and  what  dues  he  ought  to  have  each 
year  from  the  shire.  Also  he  caused  it  to  be  written, 
how  much  land  his  archbishops,  bishops,  abbots,  and 
earls  had,  and  (though  I  may  be  somewhat  tedious 
in  my  account)  what  or  how  much  each  land-holder 
in  England  had  in  land  or  in  stock  and  how  much 
money  it  might  be  worth.  So  minutely  did  he  cause 
it  to  be  investigated  that  there  was  not  one  hide  or 
yard  of  land,  nor  even  (it  is  shameful  to  write  of  it 
though  he  thought  it  not  shameful  to  do  it)  an  ox  nor 
a  cow  or  swine  that  was  not  set  down  in  his  writ.  And 
all  the  writings  were  brought  to  him  afterwards.1' 

J,  jj»r  <T~S^      •»•"»  i-o-c-  icjj.iti. hta  |i 
jn fcw^-TtB.^^.sruna.yiMt  ^ 
^    <^7^^pa..Wur.^V«r.?n,^.-',;u. 


7|  If&U  twvlft  ftf >^t«^ "  ^.tf^ttW; 
^|V6fttwkgj>e  WWw  ^t^^5ibSVL3' 


'jamr.rTpt.eycH.  <*rt]n'&nte.eun*aar'.-rjtt'Ui)h7ju&rf£ 

/«Ttf.-v«>/*t«/««^  i      /  .   I .  'i^VtA^fH  5^LVyt 4<HMl  TVtt.^yMJM^ 

.v.  cajr-  ltilSmo.& 
titt.  cafi  Ifct-nt* 


Domesday  Book  459 

Opinion  at  Peterborough  was  clearly  adverse  to 
the  survey,  and  Florence  of  Worcester  tells  us  that 
the  proceedings  of  the  king's  commissioners  caused 
riots  in  various  parts  of  England.  The  exact 
scope  of  the  information  demanded  by  the  com- 
missioners cannot  be  better  expressed  than  in  the 
words  of  a  writer  belonging  to  the  neighbouring 
abbey  of  Ely,  who  took  an  independent  copy  of 
the  returns  made  to  those  officers  concerning 
the  lands  of  his  monastery,  and  describes  the 
nature  of  th£  inquiry  thus: 

"This  is  the  description  of  the  inquiry  concerning 
the  lauds,  which  the  king's  barons  made,  according 
to  the  oath  of  the  sheriff  of  the  shire  and  of  all  the 
barons  and  their  Frenchmen  and  of  the  whole  hun- 
dred-court— the  priests,  reeves  and  six  villeins  from 
every  vill.  In  the  first  place  [they  required]  the 
name  of  the  manor;  who  held  it  in  the  time  of  King 
Edward,  and  who  holds  it  now,  how  many  hides  [hida] 
are  there,  how  many  ploughs  in  demesne  and  how  many 
belonging  to  the  men,  how  many  villeins,  cottars, 
slaves,  freemen  and  sokemen;  how  much  woodland, 
meadow  and  pasture,  how  many  mills  and  fish- 
eries; how  much  has  been  added  to  or  taken  from  the 
estate,  how  much  the  whole  used  to  be  worth,  and  how 
much  it  is  worth  now;  and  how  much  each  freeman 
or  sokeman  had  or  has  there.  All  this  thrice  over; 
with  reference  to  the  time  of  King  Edward,  and  to 
the  time  when  King  William  gave  the  land  and  to 
the  present  time ;  and  if  more  can  be  got  out  of  it  than 
is  being  drawn  now." 1 

i  Frequently  printed,  e.g.  by  Stubbs,  Select  Charters,  86. 

460          William  the  Conqueror 

Now,  although  the  fact  may  not  appear  on  a 
first  reading  of  these  passages,  all  these  details 
were  entirely  subsidiary  to  one  main  object — the 
exact  record  of  the  local  distribution  of  the  king's 
"geld"  or  Danegdd,  the  one  great  direct  tax  lev- 
ied on  the  whole  of  England.  Domesday  is  essen- 
tially a  financial  document;  it  is  a  noteworthy 
example  of  that  insistence  on  their  fiscal  rights 
which  was  eminently  characteristic  of  the  Anglo- 
Norman  kings,  and  was  the  chief  reason  why  they 
were  able  to  build  up  the  strongest  government  in 
Western  Europe.  Every  fact  recorded  in  Domes- 
day bears  some  reference,  direct  or  indirect,  to  the 
payment  of  the  Danegeld,  for  the  king's  commis- 
sioners knew  their  business,  and  the  actual  scribes, 
who  arranged  the  results  of  the  survey  were 
remorseless  in  rejecting  all  details  which  did  not 
fit  into  the  general  scheme  of  their  undertaking. 
It  should  not  escape  observation  that  this  fact 
prepares  many  subtle  pitfalls  for  those  who  would 
draw  a  picture  of  English  society  based  on  the 
materials  supplied  by  Domesday;  but  more  of  this 
will  be  said  later,  for  there  are  certain  questions 
of  history  and  terminology  which  demand  atten- 
tion at  the  outset. 

The  most  important  of  those  points  is  the  mean- 
ing of  those  "hides,"  which  are  mentioned  in 
both  of  the  above  extracts.  This,  indeed,  is  the 
essential  due  to  the  interpretation  of  Domesday, 
and  it  is  unfortunately  very  elusive,  for  the  term 
can  be  traced  back  to  a  very  early  period  of  Anglo* 

Domesday  Book  461 

Saxon  history  and  more  than  one  meaning  came 
to  be  attached  to  it  in  the  course  of  its  long  history- 
When  we  first  meet  the  "  hide,"  the  word  seems  to 
denote  the  amount  of  land  which  was  sufficient 
for  the  support  of  a  normal  household;  it  is  the 
average  holding  of  the  ordinary  free  man  of  Anglo- 
Saxon  law.  This  much  is  reasonably  certain,  but 
difficulties  crowd  in  upon  us  when  we  attempt  to 
estimate  the  capacity  of  the  hide  in  terms  of  acre- 
age. Much  discussion  has  arisen  about  this  point, 
but  we  may  say  that  at  present  there  are  two  main 
theories  on  the  subject,  one  assigning  to  the  hide 
one  hundred  and  twenty  acres  of  arable  land,  the 
other  some  much  smaller  quantity,  such  as  f ortyr 
eight  or  thirty  acres,  in  either  case  with  sufficient 
appurtenances  in  wood,  water,  and  pasture  for  the 
maintenance  of  the  plough  and  its  oxen.  Just  now 
the  prevailing  view  seems  to  be  that  the  areal  ca- 
pacity of  the  hide  may  have  varied  from  county  to 
county— that,  for  instance,  whfle  iwe  know  that 
in  the  eleventh  century  the  hide  stood  at  one 
hundred  and  twenty  acres  in  Cambridgeshire  and 
Essex,  it  may  not  improbably  have  contained 
forty-eight  acres  in  Wiltshire.  Important,  or 
rather  vital,  as  is  the  question  for  students  of 
Anglo-Saxon  history,  it  does  not  concern  us  to 
quite  the  same  extent,  and  we  must  pass  on  to  a 
change  which  came  over  men's  conception  of  this 
tenement  and  intimately  affects  the.  study  of 
Our  normal  free  householder,  the  man  who  held 

462         William  the  Conqueror 

a  "hide"  in  the  seventh  century,  was  burdened 
with  many  duties  towards  the  tribal  state  to 
which  he  belonged.  He  had  to  serve  in  the  local 
army,  the  fyrd,  to  keep  the  roads  and  bridges  in 
his  neighbourhood  in  repair,  to  help  to  maintain 
the  strong  places  of  his  district  as  a  refuge  in  time 
of  invasion,  and  to  contribute  towards  the  support 
of  the  local  king  or  ealdorman.  Out  of  these  ele- 
ments, and  especially  the  last,  was  developed  a 
rudimentary  military  and  financial  system  which 
is  recorded  in  certain  ancient  documents  which 
have  come  down  to  us  from  the  Anglo-Saxon 
period,  and  deserve  our  attention  as  the  direct 
ancestors  of  Domesday  Book.  They  may  be  de- 
scribed as  a  series  of  attempts  to  express,  in  terms 
of  hides,  the  capacity  of  the  several  districts  of 
England  with  which  they  deal,  for  purposes  of 
tribute  or  defence.  The  eldest  of  these  documents , 
which  is  now  generally  known  as  the  Tribal  Hid- 
age,1  is  a  record  of  which  the  date  cannot  be 
fixed  within  a  century  and  a  half,  while  very  much 
of  its  text  is  quite  unintelligible,  but  in  form  it  is 
dear  enough.  It  consists  of  a  string  of  names 
with  numbers  of  hides  attached;  thus,  the  dwell- 
ers in  the  Peak  are  assigned  1200  hides,  the  dwell- 
ers in  Elmet  600,  the  Kentishmen  15,000,  and  the 
Hwiccas  7000.  Now,  it  is  obvious  that  all  these 
are  round  numbers,  as  in  fact  are  all  the  figures 
occurring  in  the  document;  and  this  is  a  point  of 
considerable  importance,  for  it  implies  that  the 

1  Birch,  Caftularium,  i.,  414. 

Domesday  Book  463 

distribution  of  hides  recorded  in  this  early  list 
was  a  matter  of  rough  estimate,  rather  than  of 
computation,  since  we  cannot  suppose  that  there 
were  just  1200  free  householders  in  the  Peak  of 
Derbyshire,  nor  exactly  15,000  in  Kent.  These 
figures  are  intended  to  represent  approximately 
the  respective  strength  of  such  districts,  and  are 
expressed  in  even  thousands  or  hundreds  because 
numbers  of  this  kind  will  be  easy  to  handle,  a  prac- 
tice which  we  can  see  to  be  inevitable,  for  a  bar- 
barian king  of  the  time  of  Beda  would  be  a  very 
unlikely  person  to  institute  statistical  inquiries 
as  to  the  exact  number  of  hides  under  his  "su- 
premacy." But  the  point  that  concerns  us  is, 
as  we  shall  see  later,  that  the  distribution  of  hides 
in  Domesday,  for  all  its  appearance  of  statistical 
precision,  is  in  reality  just  as  much  a  matter  of 
estimate  and  compromise  as  was  the  rough  reck- 
oning which  is  recorded  in  the  Tribal  Hidage. 

These  remarks  apply  equally  to  the  next  docu- 
ment in  the  series  of  fiscal  records  which  leads 
up  to  Domesday.  Probably  in  the  reign  of  Ed- 
ward the  Elder,  when  Wessex  was  recovering  from 
the  strain  of  the  great  Danish  invasion,  some  scribe 
drew  up  a  list  of  strong  places  or  "  burhs,"  mostly 
in  that  country,  with  the  number  of  hides  assigned 
to  the  maintenance  of  each,  and  here  again  we 
find  round  figures  resembling  those  which  we  have 
noticed  in  the  Tribal  Hidage.1  In  this  way  yoohides 

i  Birch,  Cartularium,  iii.,  671;  Maitiand,  Domesday  Book, 

464         William  the  Conqueror 

are  said  to  belong  to  Shaf tesbury,  600  to  Langport, 
100  to  Lyng.  Apparently  the  wise  men  of  Wessex 
have  decreed  that  an  even  number  of  hides, 
roughly  proportional  to  the  area  to  be  defended, 
should  be  assigned  to  the  upkeep  of  each  of  those 
"burhs,"  and  have  left  the  men  of  each  district  to 
settle  the  incidence  of  burden  among  themselves. 
It  will  be  seen  that  the  system  on  which  this  docu- 
ment (which  is  conveniently  called  the  "Burghal 
Hidage")  is  based  is  much  more  artificial  than 
that  represented  in  the  Tribal  Hidage — in  the 
latter  we  are  dealing  with  "folks"  or  "tribes,"  if 
the  word  be  not  expressed  too  strictly;  here  we 
have  conventional  districts,  the  extent  of  which 
is  evidently  determined  by  external  authority. 
This  being  so,  it  becomes  possible  to  make  cer- 
tain suggestive  comparisons  between  the  Burghal 
Hidage  and  Domesday  Book.  Thus  the  former 
assigns  2400  hides  to  Oxford  and  Wallingford, 
respectively,  and  1200  to  Worcester;  and  if  we 
count  up  the  number  of  hides  which  are  entered 
in  the  Domesday  surveys  of  Oxfordshire,  Berk- 
shire and  Worcestershire,  we  shall  find  that  in 
all  three  cases  the  total  will  come  very  near  to  the 
number  of  hides  assigned  to  the  towns  which  rep- 
resent these  shires  in  the  Burghal  Hidage;  the 
correspondence  being  much  too  dose  to  be  the 
result  of  chance.  Hence,  if  the  distribution  of 
hides  in  the  Burghal  Hidage  is  artificial,  we  should 
be  prepared  for  the  conclusion  that  the  similar 
distribution  in  Domesday  is  artificial  also. 

Domesday  Book  465 

A  century  passed,  and  England  was  again  being 
invaded  by  the  Danes.  In  the  vain  hope  of 
buying  off  the  importunate  enemy  the  famous 
Danegdd  was  levied,  originally  as  an  emergency 
tax,  but  one  which  was  destined  to  be  raised,  at 
first  sporadically,  and  then  at  regular  intervals  until 
the  end  of  the  twelfth  century.  This  new  impost 
must,  one  would  suppose,  have  called  for  a  re- 
statement of  the  old  Hidages,  but  no  such  record 
has  come  down  to  us.  On  the  other  hand  we 
possess  a  list  of  counties  with  their  respective 
Hidages  annexed,  which  is  generally  known  as 
the  "County  Hidage,"  and  assigned  to  the  first 
half  of  the  eleventh  century.  This  document1 
forms  a  link  between  the  Burghal  Hidage  and 
Domesday;  for,  while  it  agrees  with  the  older  re- 
cord in  the  figures  which  it  gives  for  Worcester- 
shire, Berkshire,  and  Oxfordshire,  its  estimate 
approximates  very  closely  to  the  Domesday 
assessment  of  Staffordshire,  Gloucestershire,  and 

And  so  we  come  to  the  Norman  Conquest.  At 
the  very  beginning  of  his  reign,  William,  unde- 
terred by  the  legend  of  his  saintly  predecessor, 
who  had  seen  the  devil  sitting  on  the  money  bags, 
and  had  therefore  abolished  the  Danegdd,  laid 
on  the  people  a  geld  exceeding  stiff.  At  intervals 
during  his  reign  a  "  gdd"  was  imposed:  in  partic- 
ular, in  1083,  he  raised  a  tax  of  seventy-two  pence 

*  Birch,  Cartulariuw,  iii.,  671;  Maittand,  Domesday  Book, 

466         William  the  Conqueror 

on  the  hide,  the  normal  rate  being  only  two  shil- 
lings. It  is  not  improbable  that  the  grievance 
caused  by  this  heavy  tax  may  have  been  one  chief 
reason  why  Domesday  Book  was  compiled.  We 
have  seen  enough  to  know  that  the  system  of  as- 
sessment which  underlies  Domesday  was,  in 
principle  at  least,  very  ancient.  It  must  have 
become  very  inequitable,  for  mighty  changes  had 
passed  over  England  even  in  the  century  preced- 
ing the  Conquest.  We  know  that  William  had 
tried  to  rectify  matters  by  drastic  reductions  of 
hidage  in  the  case  of  individual  counties,  and  it 
is  by  no  means  improbable  that  the  Domesday 
Inquest  was  intended  to  be  the  preliminary  to  a 
sweeping  revision  of  the  whole  national  system 
of  assessment.  William  died  before  he  could 
undertake  this,  and  so  far  as  we  know  it  was 
never  attempted  afterwards,  for  it  has  been 
pointed  out  that  in  1194  the  ransom  of  Richard 
I.  was  raised  in  certain  counties  according  to 
the  Domesday  assessment.1  This  rigidity  of  the 
artificial  old  system  makes  its  details  especially 
worthy  of  study,  for  it  is  strange  to  see  a 
fiscal  arrangement  which  can  be  traced  back 
to  the  time  of  Alfred  still  capable  of  being 
utilised  in  the  days  of  Richard  I.  and  Hubert 

What,  then,  are  the  main  features  of  this  sys- 
tem? Much  of  its  vitality,  cumbrous  and  unequal 
as  it  was,  may  doubtless  be  ascribed  to  the  fact 

*  Maitland,  D.  B.  and  Beyond,  4. 

f  minto. 


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Domesday  Book  467 

that  it  was  based  on  the  ancient  local  divisions  of 
the  country,  the  shires,  wapentakes  or  hundreds, 
and  vills.    Put  into  other  words,  the  distribution 
of  the  hides  which  we  find  in  Domesday  is  the 
result  of  an  elaborate  series  of  subdivisions.    At 
some  indefinitely  distant  date,  it  has  been  decreed 
that  each  county  shall  be  considered  to  contain  a 
certain  definite  number  of  hides,  that  Bedford- 
shire, for  example,  shall  be  considered  to  contain 
— that  is,  shall  be  assessed  at — 1200  hides.    The 
men  of  Bedfordshire,  then,  in  their  shire  court, 
proceeded  to  distribute  these  1200  hides  among 
the  twelve  "hundreds"  into  which  the  county 
was  divided,  paying  no  detailed  attention  to  the 
area  or  population  of  each  hundred,  nor  even,  so 
far  as  can  be  seen,  obeying  any  rule  which  would 
make  a  hundred  answer  for  exactly  one  hundred 
hides,  but  following  their  own  rough  ideas  as  to 
how  much   of  their  total  assessment   of  their 
county  each  hundred  should  be  called  upon  to 
bear.    The  assessment  of  the  hundreds  being 
thus  determined,  the  next  step  was  to  divide  out 
the  number  of  hides  cast  upon  each  hundred 
among  the  various  vills  of  which  it  was  composed, 
the  division  continuing  to  be  made  without  any 
reference  to  value  or  area.    And  then  the  artifi- 
ciality of  the  whole  system  is  borne  in  upon  us  by 
the  most  striking  fact— the  discovery  of  which 
revolutionised  the  study  of  Domesday  Book— that 
in  the  south  and  west  of  England  the  overwhelming 
majority  of  vills  are  assessed  in  some  fraction 

468         William  the  Conqueror 

or  multiple  of  five  hides.1  The  ubiquity  of  this 
"five-hide  unit'1  is  utterly  irreconcilable  with  any 
theory  which  would  make  the  Domesday  hide  con- 
sist of  any  definite  amount  of  land;  a  vill  might 
contain  six  or  twenty  real,  arable  hides,  scattered 
over  its  fields,  but,  if  it  agreed  with  the  scheme 
of  distribution  followed  by  the  men  of  the  county 
in  the  shire  and  hundred  courts,  that  vill  would 
pay  Danegdd  on  five  hides  all  the  same.  The 
Domesday  system  of  assessment,  then,  was  not 
the  product  of  local  conditions  but  was  arbitra- 
rily imposed  from  above.  The  hide  was  not  only 
a  measure  of  land,  but  also  a  fiscal  term,  dis- 
sociated from  all  necessary  correspondence  with 

But,  before  passing  to  further  questions  of  ter- 
minology, it  will  be  well  to  give  some  instances  of 
the  application  of  the  ''five-hide  unit,"  and,  as 
Bedfordshire  has  been  specially  referred  to  above, 
we  may  take  our  examples  from  that  county. 
Accordingly,  if  with  the  aid  of  a  map  we  follow  the 
course  of  the  Ouse  through  Bedfordshire,  we  shall 
pass  near  to  Odell,  Risdy,  and  Radwell,  assessed  at 
ten  hides  each;  Thurghley  and  Oakley  at  five; 
Pavenham,  Stagsden,  Cardington;  Willington, 
Cople,  and  Northill  at  ten;  Blunham  at  fifteen; 
Tempsford  at  ten;  Roxton  at  twenty;  Chawston 
at  ten;  Wyboston  at  twenty,  and  Eaton  Socon  at 

*  The  fact  that  the  assessment  of  southern  and  western 
England  was  based  upon  a  conventional  unit  of  five  hides  was 
first  enunciated  by  Mr.  J.  H.  Round  in  Feudal  England. 

Domesday  Book  469 

forty.  Thus,  within  a  narrow  strip  of  one  county 
we  have  f ound  seventeen  instances  of  this  method 
of  assessment  ,,and  there  is  no  need  to  multiply  cases 
in  point.  On  almost  every  page  of  the  survey  in 
which  we  read  of  hides,  we  may  find  them  com- 
bined in  conventional  groups  of  five,  ten,  or  the 

Not  all  England,  however,  was  assessed  in  hides ; 
three  other  systems  of  rating  are  to  be  found  in 
the  country.  In  Kent,  the  first  county  entered 
in  Domesday  Book,  a  peculiar  system  prevailed 
in  which  the  place  of  the  hide  was  taken  by  the 
"sulung,"  consisting  of  four  "yokes"  (iugera), 
and  most  probably  containing  two  hundred  and 
forty  acres,  thus  equalling  a  double  hide.1  The 
existence  of  the  sulung  in  Kent  as  a  term  of  land 
measurement  can  be  traced  back  to  the  time  when 
that  county  was  an  independent  kingdom;  the 
process  by  which  the  word  came  to  denote  a 
merely  fiscal  unit  was  doubtless  analogous  to  the" 
similar  development  which  we  have  noticed  in 
the  case  of  the  "hide."  Taken  in  conjunction 
with  the  singular  local  divisions  of  Kent,  and  with 
the  well-known  peculiarities  of  land  tenure  found 
there,  this  plan  of  reckoning  by  "  sulungs"  instead 
of  hides  falls  into  place  as  a  proper  survival  of  the 
independent  organisation  of  the  county. 

Another  ancient  kingdom  also  preserves  an  un- 
usual form  of  assessment  in  Domesday.  In  East 
Anglia  we  get  for  once  a  statement  in  arithmet- 

a  Vinogradoff,  E.  H.  R.,  six.,  982. 

470          William  the  Conqueror 

ical  terms  as  to  the  amount  which  each  vill  must 
contribute  to  the  Danegeld.  Instead  of  being 
told  that  there  are,  say,  five  hides  in  a  vill,  and 
being  left  to  draw  the  conclusion  that  that  vill 
must  pay  ten  shillings  or  more  according  to  the 
rate  at  which  the  Danegeld  is  being  levied  on  the 
hide,  we  are  given  the  amount  which  each  vill 
must  pay  when  the  hundred  in  which  it  is  sit- 
uated pays  twenty  shillings.  This  form  of  slid- 
ing scale  is  unknown  outside  Norfolk  and  Suffolk, 
and  is  even  more  obviously  artificial  than  the 
assessment  of  other  counties.  Each  hundred  in 
East  Anglia  seems  to  have  been  divided  into  a 
varying  number  of  "leets," — and  it  has  been 
suggested  that  each  leet  had  to  pay  an  equal 
amount  towards  the  Danegeld  due  from  the 
hundred,1  but  the  assessment  of  East  Anglia 
in  other  respects  presents  some  special  diffi- 
culties of  its  own,  although  they  cannot  be  dis- 
cussed here. 

Of  much  greater  importance  is  the  remaining 
fiscal  unit  to  be  found  in  Domesday.  In  Yorkshire, 
Derbyshire,  Nottinghamshire,  Lincolnshire,  Leices- 
tershire, and  Rutland  all  assessments  are  expressed 
in  "  carucates,"  instead  of  hides,  each  carucate 
being  composed  of  eight  bovates,  and  each  bovate 
containing,  as  is  probable,  fifteen  (fiscal)  acres. 
This  distinction  was  remarked  on  in  the  twelfth 
century  by  Hugh  "Candidus,"  the  historian  of 
Peterborough,  who  says,  "  In  Lincolnshire  there 

*  Feudal  England,  98-103. 

Domesday  Book  471 

are  no  hides,  as  in  other  counties,  but  instead  of 
hides  there  are  carucates  of  land,  and  they  are 
worth  the  same  as  the  hides."    It  is  evident  that 
by  derivation  at  least  the  Domesday  carucata 
terra  must  originally  have  meant  a  ploughland, 
that    is,   the  amount   of  land  capable   of  be- 
ing tilled  in  one  year  by  the  great  plough-team 
of  eight  oxen,  according  to  whatever  system  of 
agriculture  may  have  then  been  current,  and  it  is 
equally  certain  that  the  word  "bovate"  takes 
its  derivation  from  the  ox.     But,  just  like  the 
hide,  the  carucate,  from  denoting  a  measure  of 
land,  had  come  to  mean  an  abstract  fiscal  quantity, 
subject  to  the  same  conditions  of  distribution  as 
affected  the  former  unit.    This  is  proved  by  the 
fact  that  the  carucates  are  found  combined  in  the 
above  counties  into  artificial  groups  according 
to  exactly  the  same  principle  as  that  which  deter- 
mined the  distribution  of  hides  in  the  south,  with 
one  highly  curious  variation  in  detail.    Whereas 
we  have  seen  that  in  the  south  and  west  vills  are 
nominally  assessed  at  some  multiple  of  five  hides, 
in  the  north-eastern  counties,  with  which  we  are 
now  concerned,  the  prevailing  tendency  is  for  the 
vills  to  be  rated  at  some  multiple  or  fraction  of  six 
carucates.    Put  in  another  way:  the  assessment 
of  the  south  and  west  was  decimal  in  character, 
that  of  the  north  and  east  was  duodecimal;  while 
we  should  expect  a  Berkshire  vill  to  be  rated  at 
five,  ten,  or  fifteen  hides,  we  must  expect  to  find 
a  Lincolnshire  vill  standing  at  six,  twelve,  or 

472         William  the  Conqueror 

eighteen  carucates.1  We  have  in  this  way  a  "six- 
carucate  unit,"  to  set  beside  and  in  distinction 
to  the  "  five-hide  unit,"  which  we  have  already 

Now,  these  details  become  very  significant 
when  we  consider  the  geographical  area  within 
which  these  carucates  are  found  combined  after 
this  fashion.  The  district  between  the  Welland 
and  the  Tees  has  a  historical  unity  of  its  own.  As 
was  the  case  with  East  Anglia  and  Kent,  fiscal 
peculiarities  are  accompanied  in  this  quarter 
also  by  a  distinctive  local  organisation.  The 
co-existence  in  this  part  of  England  of  "  Danish" 
place-names  with  local  divisions  such  as  the 
wapentake,  which  can  be  referred  to  northern 
influence,  has  always  been  considered  as  prov- 
ing an  extensive  Scandinavian  settlement  to 
have  taken  place  there;  and  we  can  now  rein- 
force this  argument  by  pointing  to  the  above 
fiscal  peculiarities,  which  we  know  to  be  con- 
fined to  this  quarter  and  which  are  invaluable 
as  enabling  us  to  define  with  certainty  the 
exact  limits  of  the  territory  which  was  actually 
settled  by  the  Danes  in  the  tenth  century.  In 
Denmark  itself  we  find  instances  of  the  employ- 
ment of  a  duodecimal  system  of  reckoning  similar 
to  that  on  which  we  have  seen  the  Domesday 
assessment  of  the  above  north-eastern  coun- 
ties to  be  based ;  and  we  may  recognise  in  the 

»For  the   " six-carucate  unit"  see  Feudal  England,  69. 
Victoria  Histories,  Derby,  Notts,  Leicester,  and  Lincoln. 

Domesday  Book  473 

latter  the  equivalent  of  the  territory  of  the  "Five 
Boroughs "  of  Nottingham,  Derby,  Leicester, 
Lincoln,  and  Stamford,  together  with  the  Danish 
kingdom  of  Deira  (Yorkshire),  across  the  Humber. 

Tedious  as  these  details  may  well  seem,  the  con- 
clusions to  which  they  lead  us  are  by  no  means 
unimportant.  In  the  first  place,  we  see  how  such 
ancient  kingdoms  as  Kent,  East  Anglia  and  Deira, 
to  which  we  may  add  the  territory  of  the  Five 
Boroughs,  preserved  in  their  financial  arrange- 
ments many  relics  of  their  former  independent 
organisation  long  after  they  had  lost  all  trace  of 
political  autonomy.  And  then  -in  the  second 
place  we  obtain  a  glimpse  into  the  principles  which 
governed  the  policy  of  the  Norman  rulers  of  Eng- 
land towards  native  institutions.  These  were 
not  swept  away  wholesale;  centralisation  was  only 
introduced  where  it  was  absolutely  necessary,  and 
so  long  as  local  arrangements  sufficed  to  meet  the 
financial  needs  of  the  crown,  they  were  not  inter- 
fered with.  Here,  as  elsewhere,  it  was  not  the 
policy  of  William  or  of  his  successors  to  disturb 
the  ancient  organisation  of  the  country,  for  it 
could  well  be  adapted  to  the  purposes  of  a  king 
who  was  strong  enough  to  make  his  govern- 
ment a  reality  over  the  whole  land,  and  in  this 
respect  the  Conqueror  and  his  sons  need  have 
no  fear. 

In  the  above  account  we  have  considered  the 
Domesday  system  of  assessment  in  its  simplest 
possible  form,  but  certain  complications  must  now 

474         William  the  Conqueror 

receive  notice.  In  the  first  place  the  plan  on  which 
the  survey  itself  is  drawn  up  places  difficulties 
in  our  way,  for  it  represents  a  kind  of  compromise 
between  geographical  and  tenurial  principles. 
Thus,  each  county  is  entered  separately  in  Domes- 
day, but  within  the  shire  all  estates  are  classified 
according  to  the  tenant-in-chief  to  whom  they  be- 
longed, and  not  according  to  the  hundred  or  other 
local  division  in  which  they  are  situated.  This 
is  a  fact  to  which  we  shall  have  again  to  refer, 
but  it  will  be  evident  that  more  than  one  tenant-in- 
chfef  might  very  well  hold  land  in  the  same  vill,  and 
this  being  the  case,  we  can  never  be  sure,  without 
reading  through  the  entire  survey  of  a  county, 
that  we  have  obtained  full  particulars  of  any  single 
vill  contained  in  it.  In  other  words,  vill  and  manor 
were  never  of  necessity  identical,  and  in  some 
parts  of  England,  especially  the  north  and  east, 
such  an  equivalent  was  highly  exceptional.  In 
this  way,  therefore,  in  the  all-important  sphere 
of  finance,  the  lowest  point  to  whidi  we  can  trace 
the  application  of  any  consistent  principle  in  the 
apportionment  of  the  "  geld  "  was  not  the  manor, 
but  the  vill;  and  accordingly  before  we  can 
discover  the  presence  of  those  five-hide  and  six- 
carucate  units,  which  have  just  been  described, 
we  have  often  to  combine  a  number  of  particulars 
which,  taken  individually,  do  not  suggest  any 
system  at  all.  Two  instances,  one  from  Cam- 
bridgeshire and  one  from  Derbyshire,  will  be  in 
point  here: 

Domesday  Book  475 


Hides.        Virgates.    Acres, 

The  King 7  i 

Picot  the  Sheriff. .  4  3 

Count  Alan x  J 

"     J 

Geoffrey  de  Mande- 

ville 5  ° 

Guy  de  Reinbud- 

curt i  i  3 

Count  Alan *  12 

20  o  o 


Carucates.  Bovates. 

Henry  de  Ferrers 3 

Geoffrey  Alselin i 

Gilbert  de  Gand 2  o 

Roger  de  Busli 3  o 

«C  M 

These  examples  show  very  clearly  that  no  con- 
sistent principle  governed  the  assessment  of  a  frac- 
tional part  of  vills,  and  are  typical  of  the  neatness 
with  which  tinpromising  figures  combine  into  even 
totals.  As  to  the  way  in  which  the  men  of  a  vill 
apportioned  their  fiscal  responsibility,  we  axe  left 
almost  entirely  in  the  dark;  the  vill  or  township 
seems  to  have  had  no  court  of  its  own  capable  of 
deciding  such  a  matter.  Largely,  no  doubt,  it 

^Feudal  England,  42. 
>V.  C.  H.,  Derby,  1,295. 

476         William  the  Conqueror 

was  a  matter  o£  tradition;  a  certain  holding  which 
had  once  answered  for  two  hides  would  continue 
to  do  so,  no  matter  into  whose  hands  it  might 
come,  unless  the  assessment  of  the  whole  vill  were 
arbitrarily  raised  or  lowered  from  without,  when 
the  assessment  of  this  particular  parcel  of  land 
would  almost  automatically  be  affected  in  pro- 
portion. But  these  local  matters  do  not  come 
within  the  scope  of  our  slender  stock  of  early  fiscal 
authorities,  and  so  we  hear  nothing  about  them. 

We  are  now  in  a  position  to  examine  a  normal 
entry  from  Domesday  Book  in  the  light  of  the 
above  conclusions.  A  Nottinghamshire  manor 
will  do  very  well: 

"M[anor]— InHoveringhamSwegu  had  two  carucates 
of  land  and  two  bovates  assessed  to  the  geld. 
There  is  land  for  four  ploughs.  There  Walter 
[de  Aincurt]  has  in  demesne  two  ploughs,  and 
five  sokemen  on  three  and  a  third  bovates  of 
this  land,  and  nine  villeins  and  three  bordars 
who  have  four  ploughs.  There  is  a  priest  and 
a  church  and  two  mills  rendering  forty  shillings, 
and  forty  acres  of  meadow.  In  King  Edward's 
time  it  was  worth  £4 ;  now  it  is  worth  the  same 
and  ten  shillings  more.1' 

We  ought  first  to  see  how  each  detail  here  fits 
into  the  general  scheme  of  the  survey.  The  state- 
ment as  to  the  former  owner  of  the  manor  was 
important;  for,  just  as  King  William  maintained 
that  he  was  the  lawful  successor  of  King  Edward, 
so  also  he  was  determined  that  each  of  his  men 

Domesday  Book  477 

should  occupy  in  each  manor  which  he  might  hold 
the  exact  legal  position  filled  by  the  Englishman  or 
group  of  Englishmen,  as  the  case  might  be,  whom 
he  had  dispossessed  in  that  particular  estate.    In 
particular  it  was  essential  that  he  should  take  up 
his  predecessor's  responsibility  with  reference  to 
the  "geld"  due  from  his  land,  a  point  which  is 
well  brought  out  in  the  above  entry,  for  Walter 
de  Aincurt  clearly  is  being  debited  with  the  same 
number  of  carucates  and  bovates  as  were  laid  to 
the  account  of  "Swegn"  before  the  Conquest. 
Probably  fiscal  in  character  also  is  the  statement 
which  follows,  to  the  effect  that  in  Hoveringham 
"  there  is  land  for  four  ploughs."    For  all  its  ap- 
parent simplicity,  this  formula,  which  is  extremely 
common  in  the  survey,  presents  upon  investiga- 
tion an  extraordinary  number  of  difficult  compli- 
cations.   Taken  simply  it  would  seem  to  denote 
the  number  of  ploughs  which  could  find  employ- 
ment on  the  manor,  and  most  probably  it  has  such 
an  agricultural  significance  in  many  counties,  the 
argument  in  the  mind  of  the  commissioners  being: 
if  this  estate  has  land  for  more  ploughs  than  are 
actually  to  be  found  there,  it  is  undeveloped,  and 
more  "geld"  may  be  got  out  of  it  some  day;  if  it 
is  being  cultivated  to  the  full  extent  of  its  areal 
capacity  or  in  excess  of  it  (for  this  often  happens) 
its  assessment  probably  represents  its  agricultural 
condition  well  enough,  and  it  may  therefore  stand. 
By  malring  this  inquiry  about  "  ploughlands"  the 
commissioners  are  probably  fulfilling  the  instruc- 

478         William  the  Conqueror 

tion  which  directed  them  to  find  out  whether  the 
king  was  drawing  the  largest  possible  amount  from 
each  manor,  but  great  caution  is  needed  before  we 
decide  that  they  are  obtaining  this  information 
in  quite  the  same  way  from  every  county  surveyed. 
In  one  county,  for  example,  the  jurors  may  be 
stating  the  amount  of  land  in  their  manor  which 
has  never  been  brought  under  the  plough  at  all; 
in  another  we  may  be  given  the  total  number  of 
ploughs,  actual  and  potential,  which  could  be  em- 
ployed in  the  estate;  in  yet  a  third  the  commis- 
sioners may  have  taken  as  an  answer  a  statement 
of  the  number  of  ploughs  that  had  been  going  in 
the  time  of  King  Edward.  The  commissioners 
are  not  in  the  least  concerned  with  details  about 
ploughs  and  ploughlands  merely  as  such;  their  in- 
terest is  entirely  centred  in  a  possible  increase  of 
the  king's  dues  from  each  manor  surveyed.  But 
it  is  well  to  remember  this  fact,  for  it  throws  most 
serious  difficulties  in  the  way  of  any  estimate 
of  the  agricultural  condition, of  England  in  the 
eleventh  century. 

More  straightforward  are  the  details  which  fol- 
low in  our  entry.  It  will  be  seen  that  the  scribes 
have  marked  a  distinction  between  three  divisions 
of  the  land  of  the  vill:  first  the  lord's  demesne, 
then  the  land  held  of  him  by  sokemen,  then  the 
holdings  of  the  villeins  and  bordars.  That  such 
a  distinction  should  be  made  was  in  accordance 
with  the  instruction  given  to  the  commissioners 
by  which  they  were  directed  to  find  out  not  only 

Domesday  Book  479 

how  many  ploughs  were  in  demesne  and  on  the 
villeins'  land  respectively,  but  also  how  much  each 
free  man  and  sokeman  in  the  manor  possessed. 
These  latter  are  so  entered,  not  necessarily  be- 
cause they  were  more  definitely  responsible  for 
their  share  of  the  manorial  Danegdd  1  than  were 
the  villeins. and  bordars  for  their  own  portion,  but 
largely  no  doubt  because  they  were  less  directly 
under  manorial  control.  We  have  seen  that  the 
sokemen  and  free  men  of  Domesday  most  proba- 
bly represent  social  classes  which  have  survived 
the  Conquest,  and  are  rapidly  becoming  modified 
to  suit  the  stricter  conditions  of  land  tenure  which 
the  Conquest  produced.  But  in  Domesday  the 
process  is  not  yet  complete;  the  sokeman  is  still  a 
somewhat  independent  member  of  the  manorial 
economy,  and  as  such  it  is  desirable  to  indicate 
exactly  the  place  which  he  fills  in  each  estate. 
But  that  this  part  of  the  inquiry  was  not  essential 
is  proved  by  the  fact  that  the  holdings  of  the  soke- 
men, whether  in  ploughs  or  land,  are  usually  com- 
bined with  those  of  the  villeins  and  bordars,  even 
in  the  surveys  of  the  eastern  counties,  where  the 
free  population  was  strongest. 

The  communistic  system  of  agriculture  is  suffi- 
ciently well  brought  out  in  this  entry;  the.  four 
plough  teams  which  the  men  of  Hoveringham 
possessed,  so  far  as  we  can  see,  were  composed  of 
Oxen  supplied  by  sokemen,  villeins,  and  bordars 

*  This  was  the  view  of  Professor  Maitland,  Domesday  Book 
and  Beyond,  24. 

480         William  the  Conqueror 

alike,  and  the  survey  is  not  careful  to  tell  us  what 
proportion  of  the  thirty-two  oxen  implied  in  these 
teams  was  supplied  by  each  of  the  above  three 
classes.  We  should  beware  of  the  assumption 
that  the  sokemen  of  Domesday  were  invariably 
wealthier  than  the  villeins;  we  know  little  enough 
about  the  economic  position  of  either  class,  but 
we  know  enough  to  see  that  many  a  sokeman  of 
the  Conqueror's  time  possessed  much  less  land 
than  was  considered  in  the  thirteenth  century  to 
be  the  normal  holding  of  a  villein.  In  the  entry 
we  have  chosen  we  can  see  that  the  average  num- 
ber of  oxen  possessed  by  each  man  in  the  vill  is 
something  under  two;  and  we  may  suspect  that 
the  three  bordars  owned  no  oxen,  at  all;  but  al- 
though the  possession  of  plough  oxen  may  here 
and  there  have  been  taken  as  a  line  of  definition 
between  rural  classes,  we  cannot  be  sure  that  this 
is  so  everywhere,  certainly  we  cannot  assume  that 
it  is  the  case  here.1  • 

After  its  enumeration  of  the  several  classes  of 
peasantry,  with  their  agricultural  equipment,  the 
survey  will  commonly  proceed  to  deal  with  certain 
incidental  sources  of  manorial  revenue;  in  the 
present  case  the  church,  the  mills,  and  the  meadow. 
Even  in  the  eleventh  century  the  relations  between 
the  lord  of  a  manor  and  the  church  on  his  estate 

>  The  contemporary  description  of  the  Domesday  Survey 
published  by  Stevenson,  E.  H.  R.,  xxii.,  72,  makes  it  probable 
that  the  bordars  were  in  theory  distinguished  from  other 
classes  by  the  fact  that  they  possessed  no  share  in  the  arable 
fields  of  thovflj, 

Domesday  Book  481 

bear  a  proprietary  character;  the  lord  in  most 
cases  possesses  the  right  of  advowson  and  he  can 
make  gifts  from  the  tithes  of  his  manor  to  a  re- 
ligious house  for  the  good  of  his  individual  soul. 
The  village  church  and  the  village  mill  were  both 
in  their  several  ways  sources  of  profit  to  the  lord, 
and  in  the  case  we  have  chosen  it  will  be  noted  that 
nearly  half  the  value  assigned  to  the  manor  by 
the  Domesday  jurors  is  derived  from. the  proceeds 
of  the  latter.  "  Mill  soke,"  the  right  of  the  lord  to 
compel  his  tenants  to  grind  their  corn  at  his  mill, 
long  continued  to  be  a,  profitable  feature  of  the 
manorial  organisation.  The  peculiar  value  of  the 
meadow  lay  in  the  necessity  of  providing  keep  for 
the  plough-oxen  over  and  above  the  food  which 
they  obtained  by  grazing  the  fallow  portion  of  the 
village  lands.  The  distribution  of  meadow  land 
along  the  rivers  and  streams  of  a  county  deter- 
mines to  a  great  extent  the  relative  value  of  the 
vills  contained  in  it.1 

The  value  which  is  assigned  to  a  manor  in 
Domesday  Book  seems  to  represent,  as  a  general 
rule,  a  rough  estimate  of  the  rent  which  the  estate 
would  bring  in  to  its  lord  if  he  let  it  on  lease, 
stocked  as  it  was  with  men  and  cattle.  In  general 
it  is  probable  that  the  jurors  were  required  to 
make  such  an  estimate  with  .regard  to  three  peri- 
ods, namely,  ,  1066,  1086,  and  the  -time  when 
King  Williatn  gave  the  manor  to  its  existing 
owner.  The  last  estimate,  however,  is  frequently 

*  See  V.  C.  H.f  Hertford,  i.,  293. 

482         William  the  Conqueror 

omitted  from  the  completed  survey;  but  it  is  in- 
cluded often  enough  for  us  to  be  able  to  say  that 
the  disorder  which  attended  the  Conquest  was 
commonly  accompanied  by  a  sharp  depreciation 
in  the  value  of  agricultural  land;  and  in  many 
counties  manorial  values  in  general  had  failed 
to  rise  to  their  pre-Conquest  level  in  the  twenty 
years  between  1066  and  1086.  If  the  whole 
of  England  be  taken  into  account,  it  has  been 
computed  that  the  average  value  of  the  hide 
or  carucate  will  be  very  close  to  one  pound,  and 
the  Nottinghamshire  manor  we  are  considering 
is  sufficiently  typical  in  this  respect.  But  it  must 
be  remembered  that  the  jurors  on  making  their 
estimate  of  value  would  certainly  have  to  take 
into  consideration  sources  of  local  revenue  which 
1  were  not  agricultural  in  character,  and  the  tall- 
age  of  the  peasantry  and  the  profits  of  the  mano- 
rial court  will  be  included  in  one  round  figure, 
together  with  the  value  of  the  labour  services  of 
the  villeins  and  the  rent  of  mills  and  meadows. 

Our  attempt  to  understand  the  terms  employed 
in  a  typical  entry  may  serve  to  introduce  us  to  a 
matter  of  universal  importance,  the  indefiniteness 
of  Domesday.  We  are  not  using  this  word  as  a 
term  of  reproach.  The  compilers  of  Domesday 
had  to  deal  with  a  vast  mass  of  most  intractable 
material,  and  the  marvel  is  that  they  should  have 
given  so  splendid  an  account  of  their  task.  But 
for  all  that,  it  is  often  a  most  formidable  business 
to  define  even  some  of  the  commonest  terms  used 

Domesday  Book  483 

in  Domesday.  It  has  been  shown,  for  instance, 
that  the  word  manerium,  which  we  can  only  trans- 
late by  "manor,"  was  used  in  the  vaguest  of 
senses.  It  may  denote  one  estate  rated  at  one 
hundred  hides,  and  another  rated  at  eighty  acres; 
most  manors  will  contain  a  certain  amount  of 
land  "in  demesne,"  but  there  are  numerous  in- 
stances in  which  the  whole  manor  is  being  held  of 
a  lord  by  the  peasantry;  in  the  south  of  England 
the  area  of  a  manor  will  very  frequently  coincide 
with  that  of  the  vill  from  which  it  takes  its  name, 
but  then  again  there  may  very  well  be  as  many  as 
ten  manors  in  one  vill,  while  a  single  manor  may 
equally  well  extend  over  half  a  dozen  vills.  In 
many  cases  the  vague  impression  left  by  Domes- 
day is  due  to  the  indefiniteness  of  its  subject- 
,  matter — if  we  find  it  hard  to  distinguish  a  free 
man  from  a  sokeman  this  is  in  great  measure  due 
to  the  fact  that  these  classes  in  all  probability  did 
really  overlap  and  intersect  each  other.  Just  so 
if  we  cannot  be  quite  sure  what  the  compilers  of 
our  record  meant  when  they  called  one  man  a 
"  bordar"  and  another  man  a  "villein,"  we  must 
remember  that  it  would  not  be  easy  to  give  an  ex- 
act definition  of  a  "cottager"  at  the  present  day; 
and  also  that  the  villein  class  which  covered  more 
than  half  of  the  rural  population  of  England  can- 
not possibly  have  possessed  uniform  status,  wealth, 
privileges,  and  duties  over  this  vast  area.  But 
there  exists  another  cause  of  confusion  which  is 
solely  due  to  the  idiosyncrasies  of  the  Domesday 

484         William  the  Conqueror 

scribes,  and  that  is  their  inveterate  propensity  for 
using  different  words  and  phrases  to  mean  the 
same  thing.  Thus  when  they  wish  to  note  that 
a  certain  man  could  not  " commend"  his  land  to 
anybody,  without  the  consent  of  his  lord,  we  find 
them  saying  "he  could  not  withdraw  without  his 
leave,"  "he  could  not  sell  his  land  without  his 
leave,'1  *c  he  could  not  sell  his  land,"  "  he  could  not 
sell  or  give  his  land  without  his-  leave  " — all  these 
phrases  and  many  others  describing  exactly  the 
same  idea.  This  peculiarity  runs  through  the 
whole  of  the  survey;  it  is  shown  in  another  way 
by  the  wonderful  eccentricities  of  the  scribes  in  the 
matter  of  the  spelling  of  proper  names.  So  far 
as  place  names  go,  this  variety  of  spelling  does 
little  more  than  place  difficulties  in  the  way  of 
their  identification;  but  when  we  find  the  same 
Englishman  described  in  the  same  county  as  Ans- 
chil,  Aschil,  and  Achi,1  matters  become  more 
serious.  For  there  is  hardly  a  question  on  which 
we  could  wish  for  more  exact  evidence  than  that 
of  the  number  of  Englishmen  who  continued  to 
hold  land  after  the  Conquest ;  and  yet,  owing  to  the 
habits  of  the  Domesday  scribes,  we  can  never 
quite  avoid  an  uneasy  suspicion  that  two  English- 
men whose  names  faintly  resemble  each  other  may, 
after  all,  turn  out  to  be  one  and  the  same  person. 
We  cannot  really  blame  the  scribes  for  reliev- 
ing their  monotonous  task  by  indulging  in  such 
pleasure  as  the  variation  of  phrase  and  spelling 

i  V.  C,  H.,  Bedford,  i.,  200, 

Domesday  Book  485 

may  have  brought  them,  but  it  is  very  necessary 
to  face  this  fact  in  dealing  with  any  branch  of 
Domesday  study,  and  the  neglect  of  this  precau- 
tion has  led  many  enquirers  into  serious  error. 

Closely  connected  with  all  this  is  the  question  of 
the  existence  of  downright  error  in  Domesday 
Book  itself.  To  show  how  this  might  happen,  it 
will  be  necessary  to  give  a  sketch  of  the  manner 
in  which  the  great  survey  was  compiled.  "The 
king,"  says  the  Anglo-Saxon  chronicler,  ''sent  his 
men  into  every  shire  all  over  England."  We  can- 
not be  quite  sure  whether  they  went  on  circuit 
through  the  several  hundreds  of  each  shire  or 
merely  held  one  session  in  its  county  town1;  in 
either  case  there  appeared  before  them  the  entire 
hundred  court,  consisting,  as  we  have  seen,  of  the 
priest,  the  reeve,  and  six  villeins  from  every  vill. 
But  out  of  this  heterogeneous  assembly  there 
seems  to  have  been  chosen  a  small  body  of  jurors 
who  were  responsible  in  a  peculiar  degree  for  the 
verdict  given.  We  possess  lists  of  the  jurors  for 
most  of  the  hundreds  of  Cambridgeshire,  from 
which  it  appears  that  eight  were  chosen  in  each 
hundred,  and,  a  very  important  point,  that  half  of 
them  were  Frenchmen  and  half  were  Englishmen. 
Thus  the  commissioners  obtained  for  each  hun- 
dred the  sworn  verdict  of  a  body  of  men  drawn 
from  both  races  and  representing,  so  far  as  we  can 
see,  very  different  levels  of  society.  We  cannot 

*  The  former  view  is  that  of  Mr.  Round,  the  latter  that  of 
Professor  Maitland 

486          William  the  Conqueror 

assume  that  precisely  the  same  questions  were  put 
to  the  jurors  in  every  shire.  The  commissioners 
may  well  have  been  allowed  some  little  freedom  of 
adapting  the  form  of  the  inquiry  to  varying  local 
conditions,  and  the  terminology  of  their  instruc- 
tions may  have  differed  to  some  extent  according 
to  the  part  of  England  in  which  they  were  to  be 
carried  out;  but  the  similarity  of  the  returns  ob- 
tained from  very  distant  counties  proves  that  the 
whole  Domesday  Inquest  was  framed  according 
to  one  general  plan.  It  is  more  likely  that  the 
differences  which  undoubtedly  exist  at  times  be- 
tween the  surveys  of  different  counties  are  really 
due  to  the  procedure  of  the  scribes  who  shaped 
the  local  returns  into  Domesday  as  we  possess  it.1 
It  will  be  evident  that  the  completed  returns 
from  each  county  must  have  consisted  of  a  series 
of  hundred-rolls  arranged  vill  by  vill  according 
to  the  sequence  followed  by  the  commissioners  in 
making  the  inquiry.  The  first  task  of  the  Domes- 
day scribes  was  to  substitute  for  the  geographical 
order  of  the  original  returns  a  tenurial  order  based 
on  the  distribution  of  land  among  the  tenants-in- 
chief  in  each  shire.  They  must  have  worked 
through  the  returns  county  by  county,  collecting 
ajl  the  entries  which  related  to  land  held  by  the 
same  tenant-in-chief  in  each  shire,  and  arranging 

1  We  also  know  that  the  returns  were  checked  in  each 
county  by  a  second  set  of  commissioners  who  were  deliber- 
ately sent  by  the  king  into-  shires  where  they  possessed  no 
personal  interest. — E.  H.  R.,  xxii.,  72. 

Domesday  Book  487 

them  under  appropriate  headings,  and  we  know 
that  they  paid  no  very  consistent  regard  to  lo- 
cal geography  in  the  process.  Where  a  vill  was 
divided  between  two  or  more  tenants-in-chief 
the  division  must  have  been  marked  by  the 
jurors  of  its  hundred  in  making  their  report;  but, 
whereas  the  unity  of  the  vill  as  a  whole  was 
respected  in  the  original  returns,  it  was  disre- 
garded by  the  Domesday  scribes,  for  whom  the 
feudal  arrangements  of  the  county  were  the  first 
consideration.  The  first  step  to  be  taken  in 
drawing  a  picture  of  the  condition  of  any  county 
surveyed  in  Domesday  is  the  collection  of  their 
scattered  entries  and  the  reconstruction  of  the 
individual  vills  in  their  entirety.  As  any  one  who 
has  attempted  this  exercise  can  testify,  the  risk  of 
error  is  very  great,  and  we  may  be  sure  that  it 
was  no  less  for  the  Domesday  scribes  themselves. 
We  cannot  often  test  the  accuracy  of  Domesday 
by  a  comparison  with  other  documents,  but  the 
few  cases  where  this  is  possible  are  enough  to 
destroy  all  belief  in  the  literal  infallibility  of  the 
great  record.  The  work  was  done  under  great 
pressure  and  against  time,  and  we  should  not 
cavil  at  its  incidental  inaccuracies. 

Domesday  Book  as  we  possess  it  consists  of  two 
volumes,  the  second,  known  as  Little  Domesday, 
dealing  with  Essex,  Norfolk,  and  Suffolk,  the 
first  containing  the  survey  of  the  rest  of  England. 
The  two  volumes  are  very  different  in  plan  and 
treatment.  In  Essex  and  East  Anglia,  the  scribes 

488         William  the  Conqueror 

have  followed  as  nearly  as  possible  the  directions 
which  we  have  quoted  on  page  458.  They  enu- 
merate the  live-stock  on  the  several  estates  with 
an  abundance  of  detail  which  quite  justifies  the 
complaint  of  the  Peterborough  Chronicler  that 
there  was  not  an  ox  or  a  co^r  nor  a  swine  that 
was  not  set  down  in  the  king's  writ.  It  is  from 
the  survey  of  these  counties  also  that  we  draw 
the  great  body  of  our  information  about  the  differ- 
ent sorts  and  conditions  of  men,  their  tenurial 
relations  and  personal  status.  But  this  wealth  of 
detail  is  accompanied  by  considerable  faultiness 
of  execution,  and  in  the  first  volume  of  Domesday 
the  plan  is  different.  In  compiling  Great  Domes- 
day the  scribes  abandoned  the  idea  of  tran- 
scribing the  original  returns  in  full,  and  contented 
themselves  with  giving  a  prfcis  of  them ;  the  details 
which  had  been  collected  about  sheep  and  horses 
are  jettisoned  and  the  whole  survey  is  drawn 
within  closer  limits.  The  most  reasonable  expla- 
nation of  this  change  is  that  the  so-called  second 
volume  of  Domesday  represents  the  first  attempt 
at  a  codification  of  the  returns  * ;  that  the  result 
was  found  too  detailed  for  practical  purposes,  and 
that  the  conciser  arrangement  of  the  first  volume 
was  adopted  in  consequence.  The  volume  com- 
bining Essex,  Norfolk,  and  Suffolk  contains  450 
folios  and  even  the  Conqueror  might  have  been 
appalled  at  the  outcome  of  his  survey  if  all  the 
thirty  counties  of  England  were  to  be  described 

» Feudal  England,  141. 

Domesday  Book  489 

on  the  same  scale.  Whatever  the  reason,  the 
change  is  accompanied  by  a  marked  improvement 
in  workmanship  and  practicability. 

The  "first"  volume  of  Domesday  contains  382 
folios  and  its  arrangement  deserves  notice.  In 
regular  course  the  survey  proceeds  across  England 
from  Kent  to  Cornwall;  the  first  125  folios  of  the 
volume  are  in  fact  the  description  of  the  earldom  of 
Wessex.  Next,  starting  again  in  the  east,  the 
counties  between  Middlesex  and  Herefordshire 
are  described;  to  be  followed  by  the  survey  of 
the  north  midland  shires  from  Cambridgeshire  to 
Wai-wick,  still  following  due  order  from  east  to 
west.  Warwick  is  followed  by  Shropshire,  for 
Worcestershire  belongs  to  Domesday's  second  belt, 
and  the  rest  of  the  survey  progresses  from  west 
to  east  from  Shropshire  to  Notts,  Yorkshire  and 
Leicestershire  completing  the  talc.  In  general 
the  boundaries  of  the  counties  are  the  same  as  at 
the  present  day,  but  portions  of  Wales  are  included 
in  Gloucester,  Hereford,  and  Berkshire;  the  lands 
"between  Ribble  and  Mersey"  form  a  sort  of  ap- 
pendage to  Yorkshire,  and  Rutland  in  1086  has  not 
yet  the  full  status  of  a  county.  It  is  not  quite  easy 
to  explain  why  Domesday  stops  short  at  the  Tees 
and  the  Ribble.  Cumberland  and  Westmoreland 
were  indeed  reckoned  parts  of  the  Scotch  kingdom 
at  this  time,  but  Northumberland  and  Durham 
were  undoubtedly  English.  Possibly  they  had 
been  too  much  harried  in  recent  years  to  be  worth 
the  labour  of  surveying;  possibly  in  that  wild 

49°         William  the  Conqueror 

and  lawless  land  an  attempt  to  carry  out  the 
survey  would  have  led  to  something  more  than 
local  riots.  At  any  rate  Domesday's  omission  is 
our  loss,  for  it  is  in  the  extreme  north  that  the 
old  English  tenures  lingered  the  longest ;  we  could 
wish  for  a  description  of  them  in  the  Conqueror's 
day  and  conceived  on  the  same  plan  as  the  full 
accounts  which  we  possess  of  the  feudalised  south. 
All  over  England  the  scribes  so  far  as  was 
possible  followed  a  consistent  plan  in  the  arrange- 
ment of  the  returns  for  each  county.  The  case 
of  Oxfordshire  will  do  for  a  typical  instance. 
Here,  as  in  nearly  every  shire  to  the  north  of  the 
Thames,  the  county  town  is  surveyed  first;  the 
interesting  description  which  is  given  of  Oxford 
filling  a  column  and  a  half.  The  rest  of  the  folio 
is  occupied  by  a  list  of  all  those  in  the  county 
who  held  land  in  chief  of  the  crown,  arranged  and 
numbered  in  the  order  in  which  their  estates 
are  entered  in  the  body  of  the  survey.  The  scale 
of  precedence  adopted  by  the  compilers  of  Domes- 
day deserves  remark,  for  it  is  substantially  the 
same  as  the  order  which  we  find  observed  in  the 
lists  of  witnesses  to  solemn  charters  of  the  time. 
First  comes  the  king  in  the  case  of  every  county 
in  which  he  held  land.  Then  comes  the  body 
of  ecclesiastical  tenants  holding  of  him  within 
the  shire,  archbishops  first,  then  bishops,  then 
abbots,  or  rather  abbeys,  for  the  tendency  is  to 
assign  the  lands  belonging  to  a  religious  house 
to  the  foundation  itself  rather  than  to  its  head. 

Domesday  Book  491 

Among  laymen  the  earls  come  first,  foreign  counts 
being  placed  on  a  level  with  their  English  repre- 
sentatives, the  same  Latin  word  (comes)  express- 
ing both  titles.  Then  come  the  various  " barons"" 
undistinguished  by  any  mark  of  rank,  who  of 
course  form  the  larger  number  o£  the  tenants- 
in-chief  in  any  shire,  and  lastly,  in  most  counties, 
the  holdings  of  a  number  of  men  of  inferior  rank 
are  thrown  together  under  one  heading  as  "the 
lands  of  the  king's  servants,  sergeants,  or  thegns." 
Returning  to  the  case  of  Oxfordshire  we  find  the 
king,  as  ever,  first  on  the  list.  He  is  followed 
by  the  archbishop  of  Canterbury  and  the  bishops 
of  Winchester,  Salisbury,  Exeter,  Lincoln,  Bayeux, 
and  Lisicux,  who  in  turn  are  succeeded  by  the 
abbeys  of  Abingdon,  Battle,  Winchcombe,  Prdaux, 
the  church  of  Saint  Denis  of  Paris,  and  the  canons 
of  Saint  Frideswide  of  Oxford.  Earl  Hugh  of 
Chester  stands  first  among  laymen  of  "comital" 
rank,  being  followed  by  the  counts  of  Mortain  and 
Evrcux,  Karl  Aubrey  of  Northumbria,  and  Count 
Eustace  of  Bologne.  Then  come  the  barons, 
twenty-three  in  number  in  Oxfordshire,  whose 
order  in  the  survey  seems  to  be  determined  by 
no  more  subtle  cause  than  a  shadowy  idea  on  the 
part  of  the  scribes  of  grouping  them  according 
to  the  initial  letter  of  their  extra  names.  The  list 
becomes  a  little  miscellaneous  towards  the  close; 
three  great  ladies  appear:  Christina,  the  sister  of 
Edgar  the  Etheling;  the  Countess  Judith,  Wal- 
theof  's  widow ;  and  a  lady  who  is  vaguely  described 

49  2         William  the  Conqueror 

as  "Roger  de  Ivry's  wife,"  bringing  the  total 
up  to  fifty-five.  Then  comes  another  baron, 
Hascuit  Musard,  an  important  Gloucestershire 
land-owner,  whose  Oxfordsnire  holding  would 
seem  to  have  been  overlooked  by  the  scribes, 
for  it  is  squeezed  in  along  the  foot  of  two  folios 
of  the  survey.  He  is  followed  by  Turkill  of 
Arden,  an  Englishman,  who  was  powerful  in 
Warwickshire  but  only  held  one  manor  in  Ox- 
fordshire, the  description  of  which  is  succeeded  by 
"  the  land  of  Richard  Engayne  and  other  thegns." 
Richard  Engayne  was  the  king's  huntsman,  and  a 
Norman,  as  were  many  of  his  fellows,  but  about 
half  the  names  entered  under  this  comprehensive 
heading  are  unmistakably  English  and  characteris- 
tically enough  they  are  entered  in  a  group  after  the 
members  of  the  conquering  race.  The  fifty-ninth 
and  last  heading  in  this  varied  list  runs,  "  These 
underwritten  lands  belong  to  Earl  William's 
fee,"  a  formula  which  is  explained  by  the  fact 
that  the  manors  surveyed  under  it  had  be- 
longed to  Earl  William  Fitz  Osbern,  who  as  we 
know  had  been  killed  in  Flanders  in  1071,  while 
his  son  and  heir  had  been  disinherited  in  1075. 
And  so  we  see  that,  although  the  earl's  tenants 
had  lost  their  immediate  lord  in  consequence  of 
his  forfeiture,  they  were  not  recognised  as  holding 
in  chief  of  the  crown,  but  were  kept  apart  in  a 
group  by  themselves  in  anticipation  of  the  later 
feudal  practice  by  which  the  tenants  of  a  great 
fief  or  honour  in  the  royal  hands  were  conceived 

Domesday  Book  493 

of  as  holding  rather  of  their  honour  than  of  the 
king  himself. 

In  the  present  chapter  we  have  mainly  dealt 
with  Domesday  Book  from  its  own  standpoint 
as  a  fiscal  register,  but  for  the  majority  of  the 
students  its  real  value  lies  in  the  unique  light 
which  it  throws  upon  legal  and  social  antiquities 
and  upon  the  personal  history  of  the  men  of  the 
Conquest.  In  these  latter  respects  the  different 
parts  of  the  survey  are  by  no  means  of  equal 
value.  The  space  assigned  to  each  county  in 
Domesday  was  determined  solely  by  the  caprice 
of  the  scribes;  counties  of  approximately  equal 
area  are  assigned  very  different  limits  of  space  in 
the  record.  Equally  due  to  the  action  of  the 
scribes  is  the  amount  of  social  and  personal 
details,  above  the  necessary  minimum  of  fiscal 
information  required,  which  is  included  in  the 
description  of  each  county.  The  surveys  of 
Berkshire  and  Worcestershire,  for  instance,  are 
many-sided  records  which  throw  light  upon  ev- 
ery aspect  of  the  history  of  the  times;  while  on 
the  other  hand  for  the  counties  of  the  Danelaw 
the  fiscal  skeleton  of  the  record  is  left  bare  and 
arid;  we  get  columns  of  statistics  and  little  beside. 
The  interest  of  Domesday  of  course  is  vastly 
increased  when  we  are  able  to  supplement  its 
details  with  information  derived  from  some 
other  contemporary  record;  Buckinghamshire, 
for  example,  in  which  county  there  was  no  religious 
house  in  1086,  is  at  a  disadvantage  compared 

494          William  the  Conqueror 

with  Berkshire,  where  the  local  history  of  Abing- 
don  Abbey  fills  in  the  outline  of  the  greater 
record,  and  gives  life  to  some  at  least  of  the  men 
of  whom  the  names  and  nothing  more  are  writ- 
ten in  its  pages.  Apart  from  this  adventitious 
source  of  light,  Domesday  imparts  some  of  its 
most  precious  information  when  recording  a  dis- 
pute between  two  tenants  as  to  the  possession 
of  land,  or  noting  new  "customs,"  tolls,  and  so 
forth,  which  have  been  introduced  since  the 
Conquest,  for  then  we  may  look  for  some  state- 
ment of  local  custom  or  some  reconstruction  of 
the  "status  quo  ante  conquestum."  And  this 
leads  naturally  to  the  last  division  of  our  present 
subject — the  legal  theory  which  underlies  Domes- 
day Book. 

It  is  abundantly  plain  from  all  our  narratives 
of  the  Conquest  that  King  William  regarded 
himself,  and  was  determined  that  he  should 
be  regarded,  as  the  lawful  successor  of  his  cousin 
King  Edward ;  he  was  the  true  heir  by  blood  as  well 
as  by  bequest.  Unfortunately  wicked  men  had 
usurped  his  inheritance  so  that  he  was  driven  to 
regain  it  by  force  and  arms ;  the  earl  of  Wessex  had 
taken  upon  himself  the  title  of  king  and  the  whole 
nation  had  acquiesced  in  his  unlawful  rule.  But 
the  verdict  of  battle  had  been  given  in  William's 
favour;  he  had  been  accepted  as  king  by  the  great 
men  of  the  realm,  and  he  had  been  duly  crowned; 
it  would  be  no  more  than  justice  for  him  to 
disinherit  every  Englishman  as  such  for  his  tacit 

Domesday  Book  495 

or  overt  rebellion.  Moreover  even  after  he  had 
been  received  as  king  his  rebellious  subjects 
in  every  part  of  the  land  had  risen  against  him; 
they  had  justly  forfeited  all  claim  to  his  royal 
grace;  their  lands  by  virtue  of  these  repeated 
treasons  became  at  his  absolute  disposal.  Some 
such  ideas  as  these  underlie  that  "  great  confisca- 
tion" of  which  Freeman  considered  Domesday 
to  be  essentially  the  record,  and  two  all-impor- 
tant conclusions  followed  from  them.  The  first 
is  that  the  time  of  King  Edward,  that  phrase 
which  meets  us  on  every  page  of  Domesday,  was 
the  last  season  of  good  law  in  the  land;  should 
any  man  claim  rights  or  privileges  by  prescription 
he  must  plead  that  they  had  been  allowed  and 
accepted  under  the  last  king  of  the  old  native  line. 
Just  as  his  subjects  cried  for  "the  law  of  King 
Edward"  as  the  system  of  government  under 
which  they  wished  to  live,  so  to  the  king  himself 
these  words  expressed  the  test  of  legality  to  be 
applied  to  whatever  rights  claimed  an  origin 
anterior  to  his  own  personal  grant.  Rarely  does 
Domesday  refer  to  any  of  the  kings  before 
Edward;  the  Conqueror's  reign  has  already  be- 
come the  limit  of  legal  memory;  never,  except 
by  inadvertence,  does  it  refer  to  the  reign  of 
Harold  by  name.  And  then  in  the  second  place 
he  who  would  prove  the  lawful  possession  of  his 
land  must  rely  in  the  last  resort  upon  "  the  writ 
and  seal"  of  King  William.  The  whole  tenor 
of  Domesday  seems  to  imply  that  all  English- 

496         William  the  Conqueror 

men  as  such  were  held  to  have  been  disin- 
herited by  the  result  of  the  Conquest.  Save 
for  the  lands  of  God  and  his  Saints  all  Eng- 
land had  become  the  king's;  the  disposition 
he  might  make  of  his  vast  inheritance  depended 
solely  upon  his  own  will.  If  he  should  please 
to  allow  to  an  Englishman  the  possession  of 
his  own  or  others'  lands,  this  was  a  matter  of 
pure  favour,  and  Thurkill  of  Warwick  and  Col- 
swegn  of  Lincoln  could  put  forward  no  other  title 
than  that  which  secured  their  fiefs  to  the  Norman 
barons  around  them.  But  then  comes  in  that 
principle  which  is  above  all  distinctive  of  the 
Norman  Conquest — if  William  stepped  by  law- 
ful possession  into  the  exact  position  of  the  native 
kings  who  were  before  him,  so  each  of  his  barons 
in  each  of  his  estates  must  be  the  exact  legal 
successor,  the  "  heir, "  of  the  Englishman  whom  he 
supplanted.  The  term  used  by  Domesday  to 
express  the  relationship  of  the  old  and  the  new 
landlord  is  very  suggestive:  the  Englishman  is 
the  Norman's  antecessor,  a  word  which  we  only 
translate  inadequately  by  the  colourless  "prede- 
cessor." We  are  probably  right  in  calling  the 
Norman  Conquest  the  one  catastrophic  change 
in  our  social  history,  but  the  change  as  yet  was 
informal;  it  went  on  beneath  the  surface  of  the 
law;  the  terminology  of  Domesday  testifies  to  the 
attempt  to  bring  the  social  conditions  of  1086 
under  formulas  which  would  be  appropriate  to 
the  time  of  King  Edward.  When  we  are  told 

Domesday  Book  497 

that  there  were  ten  manors  in  such  a  vfll  in  the 
time  of  King  Edward,  or  that  there  used  to  be 
twenty  villeins  in  a  certain  manor  but  now  there 
are  only  sixteen,  we  may  gravely  doubt  whether 
the  terms  "manor"  and  "villein"  were  known  in 
England  before  the  Conquest,  and  yet  we  may 
recognise  that  the  employment  of  these  words 
in  relation  to  the  Confessor's  day  is  of  itself 
very  significant.  King  William  as  King  Edward's 
lawful  heir  wishes  consistently  to  act  as  such  so 
far  as  may  be;  his  scribes  in  their  terminology 
affect  a  continuity  of  social  history,  which  does 
not  exist. 

Perhaps  nothing  could  be  more  illustrative  of 
these  principles  than  a  few  extracts  taken  from  the 
Lincolnshire  "Clamores" — the  statement  of  the 
various  disputed  claims  which  had  come  to  light 
in  the  course  of  the  survey,  and  the  record  of 
their  settlement  by  the  Domesday  jurors.  The 
following  are  taken  at  random  in  the  order  in 
which  they  are  entered  in  Domesday: 

"Candleshoe  wapentake  says  that  Ivo  Taillebois 
ought  to  have  that  which  he  claims  in  Ashby  against 
Earl  Hugh;  namely  one  mill  and  one  bovat  of  land, 
although  the  soke  belongs  to  Grainham. 

"Concerning  the  two  carucates  of  land  which  Rob- 
ert Dispcnsator  claims  against  Gilbert  de  Gand  in 
Screnby  through  Wiglac,  his  predecessor  [antecessor], 
the  wapentake  says  that  the  latter  only  had  one  caru- 
cate,  and  the  soke  of  that  belonged  to  Bardney.  But 
Wiglac  forfeited  that  land  to  his  lord  Gilbert,  and  so 

498         William  the  Conqueror 

Robert  has  nothing  there  according  to  the  witness  of 
the  kiding. 

"!A  the  same  Screnby  Chetelbern  claims  one  caru- 
cate  against  Gilbert  de  Gaud  through  Godric  [but  the 
jurois],  say  that  he  only  had  half  a  carucate,  and  the 
soke  of  that  belonged  to  Bardney,  and  Chetelbern's 
claim  is  unjust  according  to  the  wapentake,  because 
his  predecessor  forfeited  the  land.  The  men  of  Can- 
dleshoe  wapentake  with  the  agreement  of  the  whole 
Ridiug  say  that  Siwate  and  Alnod  and  Fenchel  and 
Aschel  equally  divided  their  father's  land  among 
themselves  in  King  Edward's  time,  and  held  it  so  that 
if  there  were  need  to  serve  with  the  king  and  Siwate 
could  go  the  other  brothers  assisted  him.  After  him 
the  next  one  went  and  Siwate  and  the  next  assisted 
him  and  so  on  with  regard  to  all,  but  Siwate  was  the 
king's  man." 

I&  these  passages  the  actual  working  of  the 
Domesday  Inquest  is  very  clearly  displayed.  In 
the  first  place  we  see  that  all  really  turns  on  those 
ancient  local  assemblies  the  wapentake  and  hun- 
dred courts.  Not  only  do  they  supply  the  requi- 
site information  through  the  representative  jurors 
to  the  commissioners,  but  it  is  by  their  verdict 
that  the  latter  are  guided  in  their  pronouncements 
upon  disputed  claims.  If  Ivo  Taillebois  receives 
his  seisin  of  that  mill  and  oxgang  of  land  in  Ashby 
it  will  be  because  the  wapentake  court  of  Candle- 
shoe  has  assigned  it  to  him  rather  than  the  earl 
of  Chester.  This  simple  procedure  has  a  great 
future  before  it;  if  the  king  can  compel  the  local 
courts  to  give  a  sworn  verdict  to  his  officers, 

Domesday  Book  499 

so  in  specific  cases  he  can  of  his  grace  permit 
private  persons  to  use  these  bodies  in  the  same 
way.  The  Domesday  Inquest  is  the  noble  ancestor 
of  the  Plantagenet  "  assizes,1'  and  through  them, 
by  direct  descent,  of  the  jury  in  its  perfected  form. 
But  the  action  of  the  local  courts  becomes  doubly 
significant  when  we  remember  their  composition. 
The  affairs  of  the  greatest  people  in  the  land,  of  the 
king  himself,  are  being  discussed  by  very  humble 
men,  men,  as  we  have  seen,  carefully  chosen  so  as 
to  represent  Frenchmen  and  Englishmen  alike. 
Nothing  is  a  more  wholesome  corrective  of  exag- 
gerated ideas  as  to  the  severance  and  hostility  of 
the  two  races  than  a  due  remembrance  of  the 
part  which  both  played  in  the  Domesday  Inquest. 
Equally  important  is  the  respect  which  is 
clearly  being  paid  in  the  above  discussions  to  the 
strict  forms  of  law,  of  English  law  in  particular. 
No  very  knotty  problems  arise  in  the  course  of  our 
simple  extract,  but  we  can  see  that  a  Norman 
baron  will  often  have  to  stand  or  fall  in  his  claim 
according  to  the  interpretation  of  some  old  Eng- 
lish legal  doctrine.  We  know  from  other  sources 
that  the  intricacies  of  the  rules  which  in  King 
Edward's  time  determined  the  rights  and  status 
of  free  men  became  a  thing  of  wonder  to  the  men 
of  the  twelfth  century,  and  we  may  suspect 
that  the  Domesday  commissioners  were  frequently 
tempted  to  cut  these  obsolete  knots.  But  so  far 
as  is  practicable,  they  are  maintaining  that  the 
Norman  must  succeed  to  just  the  legal  position  of 

SOQ          William  the  Conqueror 

his  English  "  antecessor";  Robert]  the  Dispensator 
cannot  daim  the  land  which  has  been  forfeited 
by  Wiglac  to  Gilbert  de  Gaud. 

Lastly,  one  is  always  tempted  to  forget  that 
twenty  years  had  passed  between  the  death  of 
King  Edward  and  the  making  of  the  Domesday 
Survey.  Our  attention  is  naturally  and  rightly 
concentrated  on  the  great  change  which  substi- 
tuted a  Norman  for  an  English  land-holding  class, 
so  that  we  are  apt  to  ignore  the  struggles  which 
must  have  taken  place  among  the  conquerors 
themselves  in  the  division  of  the  spoil ;  struggles 
none  the  less  real  because,  so  far  as  we  can  see, 
they  were  carried  on  under  the  forms  of  law. 
Death  and  confiscation  had  left  their  mark  upon 
the  Norman  baronage;  the  personnel  of  Domesday 
Book  would  have  been  very  different  if  the  record 
had  been  drawn  up  a  dozen  years  earlier.  But, 
even  apart  from  this,  it  was  inevitable  that 
friction  should  arise  within  the  mass  of  Norman 
nobility  as  it  settled  into  its  position  in  the  con- 
quered land.  The  Domesday  Inquest  afforded  a 
grand  opportunity  for  the  statement  and  adjust- 
ment of  conflicting  claims,  and  examples  may 
generally  be  found  in  every  few  pages  of  Domesday 

The  last  point  in  connection  with  the  survey 
which  calls  for  special  notice  is  the  origin  of  the 
name  by  which  it  is  universally  known.  "  Domes- 
day Book"  is  clearly  no  official  title ;  it  is  a  popular 
appellation,  of  which  the  meaning  is  not  quite 

Domesday  Book  501 

free  from  doubt.  Officially,  the  record  was  known 
as  the  "Book  of  Winchester,"  from  the  city  in 
which  it  was  kept;  it  was  cited  under  that  name 
when  the  abbot  of  Abingdon,  in  the  reign  of 
Henry  L,  proved  by  it  the  exemption  of  certain 
of  his  estates  from  the  hundred  court  of  Pyrton, 
Oxfordshire.  The  best  explanation  of  its  other, 
more  famous  name  may  be  given  in  the  words  of 
Richard  Fitz  Neal,  writing  under  Henry  II. : 

"This  book  is  called  by  the  natives,  'Domesdei,' 
that  is  by  a  metaphor  the  day  of  judgment,  for  as  the 
sentence  of  that  strict  and  terrible  last  scrutiny  may 
by  no  craft  be  evaded,  so  when  a  dispute  arises  con- 
cerning those  matters  which  are  written  in  this  book, 
it  is  consulted,  and  its  sentence  may  not  be  impugned 
nor  refused  with  safety." l 

On  the  whole  this  explanation  probably  comes 
near  the  truth.  We  may  well  believe  that  to  the 
common  folk  of  the  time,  this  stringent,  searching 
inquiry  into  their  humble  affairs  may  have  seemed 
very  suggestive  of  the  last  great  day  of  reckoning. 
Viewed  in  this  light  the  name  becomes  invested 
with  an  interest  of  its  own ;  it  is  an  abiding  witness 
to  the  reluctant  wonder  aroused  by  the  making 
of  this,  King  William's  greatest  work  and  our 
supreme  record. 

|  Dialogus  dc  Saccario  (ed.  1902),  p.  108. 

Fenny  of  William  I, 

Penny  of  William  I. 


Richard  II,  _  Judith  of  Brittar 


Richard  III. 

abbot  of 
St.  Ouen 

Robert  I. 


Adeliz  «•  Reginald,  count 
of  Burgundian  Palatinate 


Guy  of  Brionne 

1                         1 
William  II.           Adeliz 

1                        J, 
Robert  IT.         (Ta])ie  c.) 




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Baldwin  V.,  count  of  Flan- 
ders, 91,  105,  106,  108, 
109,  126,  160,  171,  172, 

Baldwin  VI.,  count  of  Flan- 
ders, 305 

Baldwin,  son  of  Count  Bald- 
win VI.,  305,  307 
Bamburgh,  317 
Barking,  227,  233,  238 
Battle,  abbey  of,  197,  397 
Baudri  de  Guitry,  372,  373 
Bavinkhove,  battle  of,  300 
Bayeux,  102,  115 

bishop  of,  see  Odo. 

Beaumont  (Maine),  castle  of, 

313.  360 
Beaurain{   154 
Beauvoisis,  112 
Bee,  schools  of,  41-43 
Bedfordshire,  assessment  of, 


Bell&ne,  county  of,  39,  91, 
105,  128,  429 

see  Mabel  of. 

Beneficium,  32 
"Beorcham,    221 
Berengar  of  Tours,  42 
Berkhamstead,  Little,  222 
Bertha  of  Blois,  130 
Bessin,  the,  25,  81, 121 
Beyerley,  church  of,  385 
Bilsdale-in-Cleveland,   282 
Biota  of  Mantes,  129,  131, 

Blanchelande,  peace  of,  3x4- 

316,  344-346 
Bleddyn,  king  of  Gwynedd, 

248,  262,  276 
Blois,  county  of,  38,  66,  67 

see  Odo  II.,  Theobald 

III.,  counts  of. 
Blyth  (Notts),  441 
Bonjen,  valley  of,  361 
Bonneville.  council  of,  180 
Border,    the     Scotch,    317, 

31?.  3?3,  3a4 
Boscherville,    351 
Brand,   abbot  of   Peterbor- 
'  ,  228,  290 
river,  24 

Breteuil,  117 

laws  of,  117 

Bretford  (Wilts),  67 

Brian    of    Penthievre,    270, 
277,  324 

Brill  (Bucks),  420 

Brionne,  siege  of,  85 

county  of,  114 

Bristol,  258 

Brittany,  66,  138,  141 
volunteers  from,  168 
at  Hastings,  200, 


—  sec  Alan,  Conan,  Hoel, 

counts  of. 

Broken  Tower,  the,  217 
Buckingham,  earldom  of,  167 
"Burh-bot,"  300 
Burton-on-Trent,  420 

Caen,  122,  351, 

,122,  351,^74,  375,401 
abbey  of,  Holy  Trinity, 

180,  358  t 

z  So 

St.  Stephen's,  42, 

•  burial  of  William  I.  at, 


Cambridge,  266,  298,  333 
Canterbury,  217 

sec  Anselm,  Dunstan, 

Lanfranc,  Robert  of  Ju- 
midges,  Stigand,  arch- 
bishops of. 

Capetian  House,  360 

in  alliance  with  Nor- 
mandy, 29,  33,  67,  68,  73, 


Capital  punishment,  87,  340 
Cardiff,  castle  of,  354 

Carham,  battle  of,  317 
Carisbrooke,  castle  of,  356 
Carlisle,  1 3  23        . 
Carolmgian  Empire,  i 
Carolingian  House,  in  alliance 

with  Normandy,  26,  97,  29 
Carucates,  470,  471 
Castles,  in  England,  242,  243, 

263,  264,  451-453 


Castle-guard,    451.    45 2 
Celibacy,    clerical,    enforce- 
ment of,  396,  397 
Champagne,  county  of,  67, 

141 ;  see  also  Blois. 
Chancellor,  the,  418 
Chancery,  the  royal,  53 
Charles  III.,  king  of  ^West 

Franks,  25,  26 
Chartres,  schools  of,  41 
Chateauneuf,  castle  of,  346 
Chaumont,  368 
Chester,  276,  281,  283-285, 

388,  420 
earldom  of,   167,  425. 

see  Gerbod,  Hugh,  earls 

Christian,  bishop  of  Aarhus, 

Cicely,  daughter  of  William 

I.,    180 
Claim  of  fealty,  papal,  4041 

Claire-sur-Epte,    treaty    of, 

24,25,26,40,79    .    .. 
"Clamores"  in  Lincolnshire 

Domesday,  497*  498 
Clarendon,  constitutions  of, 

Cleveland,    176,    282,    317, 

Clifford's  Tower  (York),  265 
Cluni,  abbey  of,  379 
Cluniac  movement,  40,  385- 

Cnut,  king  of  England  and 

Denmark,   5,   15,   18,  44. 

65,  147,  ^07152,  211,  253 
Cnut    II.    (Saint),   king    of 

Denmark,  271,  334,  335, 

„  3$3.  365. 
Coesnon,  river,  139 
Commune  concilium,  408-415 
Conan,  duke  of  Brittany,  67, 

ition,  the  great,  235- 



Constant,  widow  of   King 

Robert  I.,  68 
•'Consul  Palatinus,"  427 

Copsige,     earl     of     North- 

umbria,   233,   247 
Corbie,  307 
Cornwall,  259,  260 
Cotentin,  the,   25,   8r,   101, 

Councils,  ecclesiastical,  392, 


;,  the  shire,  421,  422, 


—  the  hundred,  393,  394. 

433,   443,  444 
Coutances;    church    of    St. 

Mary  at.  137 

— -  see  Geoffrey,  bishop  of. 
Crowland,  abbey  of,  288,  290, 

Cumberland,  317,  318,  321, 

Curia,  the  papal,   55,   163, 

Curia  Regis,  416,  419,  456 


Danegeld,  460,  465,  466 

Danelaw,  9,  10,  12,  24,  *53» 
272  273 

Dean,  forest  of,  272 

Denmark,  kings  of,  see  Cnut 
I.  and  II.,  Gorm,  Harold 
Blue-Tooth,  Harold  Hein, 
Swegen  Forkbeard,  Swegen 

Derwent  (Yorkshire),  178 

Dieppe,  251 

Dinan,  siege  of,  140 

Dive,  river,  81 

estuary  of,  102, 

121,  182,  183 

Church  of  Notre  Dame 

at,  245 

Dol,  138,  139,  341 

Domesday  Book,  7,  10,  u, 
13,  J6,  33.  57,  "7,  *73. 
280,  325,  327,  345.  367, 
392,  4".  414,  4i5.  43°» 

— i-  Inquest,  437.  485,  486, 
498,  499 



Domesday  Book  (Continued) 
arrangement    of,    489- 

composition     of,    486, 




indefiniteness  of,  482- 

legal  theory  underlying, 

-  meaning  of  name,  500, 


>omfr      ,  ,     , 
Donald,  son  of '. 

Domfront,  91-95,- 101 
~      ".  _        'Mali    ' 

.colm  III., 
216,  217, 

Dover,  50,   156, 


Downton  (Wilts),  355,  420 
Dreux,  county  of,  76,  77 
Drogo,  count  of  the  Vexin, 


Droitwich,  420 
Dunbar,  317-325 
Duncan,     king     of     Scots, 

Dunstan,  Archbishop,  18,  20, 


Durham,  268,  324,  334 
modern  county  of,  321 


Eadgyth,    wife   of   Edward 

the  Confessor,  218 

marriage  of,  144 

Eadmer,  historian,  382 
Eadric  Streona,  earl  of  Mercia, 

IS,  18,  45.  248 
Eadric  the  Wild,  228,  248, 

Ealdgyth,    wife    of    Harold 

II.,  171 
Ealdred,  archbishop  of  York, 

71,    157,    221,    225,    230, 

260,    263,    275,    384-387. 

Ealdwulf  II.,  earl  of  North- 

umbria,  58 
Earldoms,  the  great,  14-17. 

46,  424,  425 
East  Anglia,  assessment  of, 


Edgar    the    Etheling,    148, 
151-153,    159,    212,    228, 

289,  320,325 

elected  king,  213 

submission  of,   221 

accompanies  William  to 

Normandy,  244 

flight  of  (1068),  262, 265 

attacks  York,  268 

joins  Danish  fleet,  273 

m  Scotland,  295 

final  flight  of,  321 

receives  offer  of  Mon- 

treuil,  326 

returns  to  England,  327 

Edgar,  king,  9,  20,  304 
Edmgton,  battle  of,  6 
Edith  the  Swan-necked,  207 
Edmund    Ironside,    15,    ax, 

147,  209,  211 
Edmund,  sheriff  of  Hertford-  • 

shire,  231 

Ednoth  the  Staller,  259 
Edred,  King,  19 
Edward  the  Confessor,   21, 

36,  49.  S2,  54,  60-62,  66, 

76,  91,  i43-*47.  33*.  4i * 

death  of,  157 

ecclesiastical    appoint- 
ments by,  385 
Edward  the  Elder,  7,  19,  a  6 
Edward   the  Etheling,   147, 

Edward,  sheriff  of  Wiltshire, 

Edwin,  earl  of  Mercia,  59,61, 

I53»    J77.    I9X"I93»    2x2- 

215.  227,  330,  «34.  4"  _ 
accompanies  William  I. 

to  Normandy,  244,  245 

first  revolt  of,  261-264 

flight    and    death    of, 

Edwy,  king  of  Wessex,  8,  20 
Elf,  the,  treaty  of,  48 
Ely,  abbey  of,  288,  432 
Domesday  Inquest  re- 
lating to,  459 

Isle  of,  290-300,  321 

private  jurisdiction  over, 

440. 44i 


Emma,  wife  of  Ethelred  II., 

29,  3°.  31.47.65.  143 
Emma,   wife  of   Earl    Ralf, 

EnglisVsheriffs,  424 
Enguerrand,  count  of  Pon- 

thieu,  64,  7^ 

death  of,  104,  in,  234 

Eon,  count  of  Penthie vre,  no, 

200,  324 

Epte,  river,  24,  68 
Eric,  earl  of  Northumbria,  45 
Eric  of  Upsala,  a 
Esegar,  sec  Ansgar. 
Estrith,  sister  of  Cnut,  65 
Ethehncr,  bishop  of  Elmham, 

Ethelnoth,    Kentish    thegn, 

Ethelred  II.,  8,  15,  18,  20, 

29,  30,  44.143      ,   „  , 
Ethelnc,   bishop   of   Selsey, 

Ethelwine.bishopof  Durham, 

Ethelwold,  prior  of  Peter- 
borough, 292,  295 

Eu,  24,  105 

county  of,  100 

$ee  Robert,  William, 

counts  of. 

Eudo  fitz  Hubert  (de  Rye), 

Eustace,  count  of  Boulogne, 
50,  169,  228,  231,  249.  250. 

Evesham,  abbey  of,  281 

sec  Agelwig,  abbot  of. 

Bvreux,  county  of,  70 

sec  William,  count  of. 

Exeter,  30,   252,   254,   259, 

revolt  of,  253-257,  267 

see  of,  383 

Exning,  330,  332,  340 

Faeadun,  334 
Fafaise,  63,  78,  121 
Palkirk,  350 

leasts,  409 

Fecamp,  30,  71,  j6,  245,  401 
council  at,  70,  71 

-  council  EIT;,  70,  71 
Feigned  flight  at  Hastings, 

Fenland,  288 
Feudal  rights,  34 
FtfMdttra,  32 
Five  Boroughs,  7 

-  assessment  of,  472,  473 
Flanders,  county  of,  27,  38, 

52,  108,  109,   141*      *6°» 


—  volunteers  from,  168 

-  visited  by  Robert  Cur- 

see  Baldwin  V.  and  VI., 
Robert,  Arnulf,  counts  of. 
Flat  Holme,  the,  358 
Fleet,  the  English,  173,  174, 

the  Norman,  165-168 

Fresnay,  castle  of,  312,  313, 

Fulford,  battle  of,  177 

Fulk  the  Lame,  167 

Fulk  Nerra,  count  of  Anjou, 

Fulk  le  Rechin,  count  of  An- 
jou, 127,304, 308, 312-315 

Fyrd,  the  Englisn,  255,  323, 
333,  341.  445.  454*  455 

Gainsborough,  272 
Gamel,  the  son  of  Orm,  59 
Gateshead,  352 
Gatinais,  the,  127 
Gebuin,  Archbishop  of  Lyons, 


Geoffrey  Alselin,  238 
Geoffrey  "le  barbu,"  count 

of  Anjou,  127 
Geoffrey,    bishop    of    Cou- 

tances,     128,     225,     277, 

384,  400,  408,  409.  454 
Geoffrey  <4Grenonat,"  count 

of  Rennes,  341 
Geoffrey  de  Mandeville,  238, 

241,  424 



Geoffrey  "Martel,"  count  of 
Anjou,  89,  112,  116,  160, 

-  war  of  1048,  90-95 

-  refrains   from   war   of 
1054,    112-116 

-  attacks  Ambri&res,  118, 

-  count   of  Maine,    118, 
128,  130 

-  death,  126 

Geoffrey  of  Mayenne,  118- 

120,  308,  310-312 
Gerald  the  Seneschal,  167 
Gerbevoi,  castle  of,  347.  36° 

-  battle  of,  347,  348 
Gersendis  of  Liguna,  308,  311 
Gertrude  of  Holland,  305 
Gervaise,  bishop  of  Le  Mans, 

Gherbod,    earl    of    Chester, 

Gilbert,   count  of  Brionne, 

72,  74,  76 
Gilbert  Crispin,  castellan  of 

Tillieres,  77 
Gilbert  of  Ghent,  170 
Gilbert  Maminot,  bishop  of 

Lisieux,  360 
Gilbert,     Bishop    Walcher's 

deputy,  351,  352 
Gloucester,  51,  415.  453 
Gloucestershire,  426 
Godwine,  earl  of  Wessex,  16, 

18,  47.  49.   5<>»   5*»    I09. 

145,  146,  156 
-  House  of,  319 
Gorm,  king  of  Denmark,  2 

,  , 

Gospatnc,    Northumbrian 

thegn,   59 
Gospatric,  earl  of  Northum- 

bria,  268,  319,  320 

-  appointed  earl  (1068), 

-  flight  of  (1068),  262 

-  joins  Danish  army,  273 

-  makes  submission,  282 

-  harries  Cumberland, 

-  deposition  of,  325 
Gratian,  394 

Grimbald  de  Plesis,  82,  87 

Guildford,  47 

Gundulf,  bishop  of  Roch- 
ester, 401 

Gunhild,  daughter  of  Earl 
Godwine,  258 

Guntard,  abbot  of  JumiSges, 


Gustavus  Vasa,  4 
Guthrum  of  East  Anglia,  6, 24 
Guy  of  Brionne,  71 
revolt  of,  80-88 

Guy-Geoffrey  of  Aquitaine, 
105,  in 

Guy,  count  of  Ponthieu,  in, 
115,  154,  183 

Gyrth,  earl  of  East  Anglia, 
57, 202 

Gytha,  wife  of  Earl  God- 
wine,  150,  207,  257,  258 


Hacon,   earl   of   Worcester- 
shire, 45 
Hacon,  Danish  earl,  334 

Harold  "Blue  Tooth,"  king 

of  Denmark,  45 
Harold    "Hein,"    king    of 

Denmark,  271,  335,  363 
Harold  I.,  king  of  England, 

Harold  II.,  king  of  England, 

49,  52,  56,  57.  257»  3°2 
•  joins   in    Breton   war, 


yt  - jj 

earl  of  Wessex,  147 

continental  tour  of, 

148, 149 

designs  upon  English 

throne,  148 

visit  to  Normandy  and 

oath,  154-157. 

becomes  king  of  Eng- 
land, 157-160 

refuses  papal  arbitra- 
tion, 161,  163 



Harold  II.  (Continued) 

marriage  of,  171 

. campaign  of  Stamford- 
bridge,  1 7  7-i 79,  TT  . 

campaign  of  Hastings, 


battle  of  Hastings,  194- 


death,  205,  206 

character,  208-210 

illegitimate  sons  of, 

258,  259,  270 

Harold  Fair  Hair,  king  of 
Norway.  2 

Harold  Hardrada,  king  of 
Norway,  3, 48, 49.  ^S-^. 

Hartnacnut,  46,  48 
Hastings,  battle  of,  54,  *33» 

194-206,  286 

castle  of,  187 

base  of  Norman  army, 

188,  195, 211 
Hayling    Island,    grant    of, 

Helfe1  de  la  Flcche,  362 
Henry   de   Beaumont,   264, 

408,  451 

Henry  IV. ,  emperor,  1 60 
Henry  L,  king  of  England, 

219,  233,   260,  369,  370, 


Henry  II.,  king  of  England, 
,.348,  419.  423.         TT 
Henry,  son  of  Henry  II.,  349 
Henry  de  Ferrers,  169,  408 
Henry  L,  king  of  France,  34, 

37.  68,  71,  77,  wo.  I6° 

guardian  of  William,  74 

raids  in  Normandy,  78 

at  Val-es-dunes,  83-85 

war  with  Aniou,  90 

supports     William     of 

Arcjues,  103,  104 
invades    Normandy, 


retreat  of,  1 16 

defeated  at  Varaville, 

121, 122 

character  of  reign,  125 

——death,  126 

—  grants  Vexin  to  Robert 
I.  of  Normandy,  367 

Herbert  "Bocco,"  regent  of 

Maine,  129 
Herbert    <7Eyeille-Chien, " 

count  of  Maine,  129 
Herbert  II.,  count  of  Maine, 

Hereford,  earldom  of,  49.  S3. 
167,  243,  328,  329,  342, 

—  castle  of,  248 

—  county  of,  276 
Hereward,  289-295,  297-303, 


Herlwin,  abbot  of  Bee,  41 
Herlwin  of  Conteville,  64 
Herlwin,  knight,  374 
Hidage,  the  Tribal,  462,  463 

—  the  Burghal,  463*  464 

—  the  county,  465 
Hides,  460,  461 
Hiesmois,  county  of,  70,  78, 

83,  105,  121 
Hildebrand,  see  Pope  Gregory 

Hoel,  duke  of  Brittany,  140, 

314.  34i»  343 
Holderness,  170,  320 
Housecarles,  445 
Hoveringham(Notts)  Domes- 
day description  of,  476-482 
Hubert,  papal  legate,  404 
Hubert  of  Fresnay,  512 
Hubert,  viscount  of  Maine, 


Hugh  ntz  Baldric,  423 
Hugh  de  Chateauneuf,  346 
Hugh,  earl  of  Chester,  78, 

167,  3S6.430, 433 
Hugh  of  Gournai,  nj 
Hugh  de  Grentmaisnu,  243, 


Hugh  of  Liguria,  308 
Hugh  IV.,  count  of  Maine, 

1x8, 129 
Hugh  the  Great,  count  of 

Paris,  26 
Hugh  de  Montfort,  113,  167, 

243 1  249 
Hugh  de  Montgomery,  428 


Hugh  of  Sillfi,  3«,  311,  3*3 
Humber,  the,  58 
Humphrey  de  Tilleul,  243 
Huntingdon,   191,  266 
earldom  of,  329 

Iceland,  3 

Ingelric  the  Priest,  232 

Ingibiorg,  wife  of  Malcolm 

III.,  323 
Ipswich,  271 

Jersey,  66 

John,  king  of  England,  162 

John  de  la  Fldchc,  308,  313- 

Jonn*  archbishop  of  Rouen, 
Judith,  wife  of  Earl  Tostig, 

Jud?t9h,  wife  of  Earl  Waltheof , 

234.  332.  337.  342 
Tumicges,  39 »  245 
Junquene",  archbishop  of  Dol, 

Jurisdiction,      ecclesiastical, 
386,  387 

Kent,  earldom  of,  167,  425, 

Knight    service,    institution 

of,  444,  446-451 
Knights'  fee,  446,  447 

of,  314 


and  John 

La  Fleche,  sic 

see  also  H 

Land-loan,  33 
Lanfranc,  archbishop  of  Can- 
terbury, 214,  358,  3/9 
. head  of  school  of  Bcc 


opposes  William's  tsiar 

riage,  107 

abbot  of  St.  Stephen's, 

Caen,   180 

visits     Rome     (1067), 

245,  246 

— 'relations    with     Roger 

of   Hereford,  328,  32*) 

—  conduct  in  1075,  334- 

—  suggests  arrest  of  Bish- 
op Odo,  357 

—  letter  to,  371 

—  policy    as    archbishop, 

dispute  with  the  Curia, 

Law,'  Old  English,  10,  499 

canon,  394 

Leicester,   264 

earldom  of,  167 

Le  Mans,  127,  132-134,  309- 


—  sec  of,  127-120 

—  sec    Arnold,     Gcrvasc, 
Vulgrin,  bishops  of. 

Lcohwinc,  favourite  of  Bish- 
op Walchcr,  352 

Lcofgar,  bishop  of  Hereford, 

Leofric,  carl  of  Mercia,  18, 

45.  40,  US 
House    of,    262,    296, 

Leofnc,  abbot  of  Peterbor- 
ough, 228 

Lcofwinc,  Earl,  son  of  God- 
wine.  57.  20 2  ,  r  -  i 

Leofwinc,  bishop  of  Lien- 
field,  230 

Lewes,  innory  of,  397    , 

Ligulf,  Northumbrian  thcgn, 

r-?5?-     .      f 

Lijmfiord,    3^4         ,  .    _. 

Lillebonnc,  council  of  (1066), 

165,  170, ^  172*408 

(1080),  351.  406 

Lincoln,  187,  191.  266,  273 
Lindscy,  173.  275.  27/>.  278 
Lisnis  de  Monostcnis,    278, 


London, 133,  102 
citizens  oi'»  15,*.  "4 


London  (Continued) 

citizensof,  charter  10,240 

• Tower  of,  227 

Bridge,  57,  219 

Lothian,  317,  323,  325 
Louis    d'Outremer,     9,    28, 


Lugg,  river,  248 
Lytmg,  bishop  of  Worcester, 



Mabel  of  Bellfime,  39,  120 
Macbeth,  king  of  Scots,  3x8 
Magnus  I.,  king  of  Norway, 

46,  48,  49 
Magnus    Bareleg,    king    of 

Norway,  4 
Maine,  39,  88,  92,  118-120, 

1 60 
revolt  of  (1072),  307- 

revolt  of  (1084),  359- 


baronage  of,  129,  308 

see   Hugh,  Herbert, 

counts  of. 
Malcolm  I.,  king  of  Scots, 

Malcolm  II.,  king  of  Scots, 

Malcolm  III,,  king  of  Scots, 

marriage  of,  322 

Malger,  archbishop  of  Rouen, 

deposition  of,  106,  107 

Malger,  count  of  M.ortain,  70 
Malmesbury,  abbey  of,  289 

schools  of,  398 

Mantes,  112,  368,  369 
Margaret  of  Maine,  130,  131, 

Margaret,   wife  of  Malcolm 

in.,  322 

Marleswegen,  sheriff  of  Lin- 
coln, 192,  229,  262,  268, 
273,  321 

Marmontice,  abbey  of,  181, 

Matilda,   the   empress,   163, 

Mat3il3da,  wife  of  William  I., 

105-110,  143 
contributes  to  the  fleet, 

regent    of    Normandy 

(1066),  x8x,  241 
regent      of  Normandy 

(1068),  251 
regent    of    Normandy 

(1069),  269 

coronation  of,  260,  261 

assists  Robert  her  son 

in  exile,  346 
•  death    and    character, 

Mauritius,  archbishop  of 
Rouen,  42,  245 

Maxines,  abbey  of,  306 

Mayenne,  castle  of,  134 

Monasteries,  foundation  of, 

Monasticism,  in  Normandy, 

revival  of,  in  England, 


Mons,  306 

Montacute  (Somerset),  siege 
of,  277 

Montgomery  (Normandy), 
castle  of,  67,  72 

Montgomery  (England),  cas- 
tle of,  427 

see  Hugh,  Roger, 

William  de. 

Montlouis,  battle  of,  89,  90 

Montreuil-sur-Mer,  326,  347 

Mora,  the,  167,  185 

Morcar,  earl  of  Northumbria, 
59»  60,  153,  171,  177,  191- 
193,  212-215,  227,  261, 
319,  372,  412 

accompanies  William  to 

Normandy,  244,  24$ 

first  revolt  of,  261-264 

flight  to  Ely,  295,  296 

imprisonment    of,    299 

Morecambe  Bay,  265 

Mortain,  sec  Malger,  Rob- 
ert, William,  counts  of. 


Mortemer,  campaign  and  bat- 
tle of,  114,  "5i  l83>  367 
Moulins,  105,  in 


Nantes,  county  of,  137 
Neel  de  St.  Sauveur,  82,  85 
Newburn  on  Tyne,  247 
Newcastle  on  Tyne,  323 

castle  of,  founded,  350 

Nicsea,  72  ^ 

Nicholas,  abbot  of  St.  Ouen, 

71,  167  , 

Normandy,    boundaries    of, 

' condition >f.(I035)»  74, 


condition  of  (1066),  141 

dukes    of,  see    Robert 

!„  IL,  Rollo,  Richard  I., 

if.,  III.,  William  I.,  II. 
Northampton,  59,  60 
Northamptonshire,  59 

French  barons  of,  171 

Northumbria,  8,  9,  58.   213. 

214,  230,   259,   262,   273, 

revolt  of  (1065),  59,  60 

opposition   to   Harold, 

revolt  of    (1068),  262, 

—^revolt  of  (1069),  273- 

harrying  of,  279-283, 


earls  of,  see  Aubrey, 

Copsige,Gospatric,  Morcar, 
OswuTf,  Robert  de  Com- 
ines,  Robert  de  Mowbray, 
Siward,  Tostig,  Walcher, 

•  Waltheof.  v 
Norway,  kings  of,  see  Har- 
old Fair  Hair,  Harold  Har- 
drada,  Magnus  I.,  IL,  Olaf 

*  (Saint) ,  Olaf  Tryg^vasson, 
Olaf  Kyrre,  and  Siguid. 

Norwich,  244,  254,  272,  333, 

Nottingham,  264,  278 

Oath  of  Harold,  iSS^S? 
Odensee,  364-365 
Odo,  bishop  of  Bayous,  40, 
64,  128,  231,  249,  250, 259, 


304,  39°.  415.410,  434 
contributes  to  the  fleet, 


at  Hastings,  202 

joint  regent  (1067),  243, 

earl  of  Kent,  423.  431* 

— ^harries  Northumber- 
land, 352,  353,.       „        - 
arrested  and  imprisoned, 


released,  372 

Odo,  brother  of  Henry  I.  of 

France,  113,  115   .    f0 
Odo  IL,  count  of  Blois,  68,  77 
Oise,  river,  68 
Olaf  (Tryggvasson),  king  of 

Norway,  4 
Olaf  (Saint),  king  of  Norway, 

Olaf  (Kyrre),king  of  Norway, 


Olne,  river,  85,  122 
Ordericus  Vitalis,  287,   336, 

Orkneys,  3,  176 
Paul  and  Erlmg,  earls 

of,  176 
Osbern  the  Seneschal,  72,  76, 

Osbern,  bishop  of  Salisbury, 


Ostmen  of  Dublin,  52 
Oswulf ,  earl  of  Northumbria, 

Ouse  '(Yorkshire),  river,  176, 

Oxford,  60 

Paula  of  Maine,  308 
Peterborough,  abbey  of,  288- 


Peterborough  (Continued) 
— :—  abbots  of,  see  Brand, 

Leofric,  Therold. 
knight  service  due  from, 

449,    ^ 

Peter's  Pence,  404 
Pevensey,  7, 54,  i?9. 185-187, 

226,  244 
Philip  I.,  king  of  France,  160, 


succeeds,  126 

temporary  alliance  with 

Flanders,  307 

grants  Montreuil  to  Ed- 
gar the  Etheling,  326 
supports  Breton  insur- 
gents, 341 

supports  Robert  of  Nor- 
mandy, 347 

acquires  Vexinf  368 

war  of  1087,  368, 369 

Poissy,  83 
Pontefract,  278,  279 
Ponthieu,  county  of.  183 

see    Enguerrand,  Guy, 

counts  of. 
Pontoise,  368 

Pope,    Alexander    II.,   x6i, 
402,  405 

Benedict  X.,  389 

Gregory  VII.,  162,  357. 

358,  402-406 

Innocent  II.,  163 

Innocent  III.f  102 

Leo  IX.,  107 

Nicholas  II.,  107 

Porlock  (Somerset),  54 
Precarium,  the,  32,  33 
Private  jurisdiction,  35 

after  1066, 438-443 

Private  war,  in  Normandy, 

Raixnalast,  castle  of, 
Ralf  of  Mantes,  earl  of 


;.,'  count  of  Valois, 
'de  Wacy,  72,  78 

Ralf  de  Wader,  earl  of  East 
Anglia,  272,  329,  330,  333- 

„  335,  341-342  oo 

Ramsey,  abbey  of,  288,  294, 

Randolf  de  Brichessart,  81, 


Redemption  of  land  by  Eng- 
lish, 234-236 

Reginald  of  Clermont,  113- 

jius  (Remi),  bishop  of 
Lincoln,   167,  401 
Rennes,  counts  of,  137 

county  of,  138 

Rheims,  General  Council  of, 

106, 107 

Rhiwallon  of  Dol,  138, 139 
Rhiwallon,  king  of  Powys, 


-l  Ricardenses, "  the,  69,  101 
Riccall  (Yorkshire),  176,  179 
Richard    I.,    duke   of   Nor- 
mandy, 28,  29,  37,  38,  39, 

RiMard  II.,  duke  of  Nor- 
mandy, 20, 38,  41,  loi,  379 

Richard  III.,  duke  of  Nor- 
mandy, 64 

Richard  of  Hugleville,  103 

Richard,  son  of  Count  Gilbert 
of  Brionne,  261 

Richard,  second  son  of  Wil- 
liam I.,  260 

Richildis  of  Hainault,  305, 

Richmond,  earldom  of,  334 

Ripon,  church  of,  385 

Rippiugdale  (Lincolnshire) , 

Robertian    House, 

25,    27, 


Robert,  duke  of  Burgundy, 

Robert  de  Comines,  earl  of 

Northumbria,  267,  268,  319 
Robert,  count  of  Eu,   100, 

113,  166,  261,  276 
Robert  "the  Frisian,"  count 

of  Flanders,  160,  305-307, 

326,  346,  363 



Robert,  bishop  of  Hereford, 

Robert  of  JumiSges,  arch- 
bishop of  Canterbury,  53, 

245.  385 
Robert,  count  of  Mortain,  64, 

x66,   259,  260,   261,    276, 

Robert  de  Mowbray,  earl  of 

Northumbria,  353 
Robert  d'Oilly,  160 
Robert,  count  of  Paris,  25 
Robert    I.,    duke    of    Nor- 
mandy, 34,  37,  63-72,  143, 

245, 367 
Robert  II.  (Curthose),  duke 

of   Normandy,    130,    136, 

181,  233,  260,  404 

joint    regent    of    Nor- 

mandy (1068),  251 
recognised  as  count  of 

Maine,  314-316 

revolt  of,  345-349 

character  of,  349,  350 

Scotch    expedition    of, 


designated  heir  of  Nor- 
mandy, 371 
Robert  fitz  Richard,  castellan 

of  York,  265,  268,  269 
Robert,  archbishop  of  Rouen, 

TO.  75 

Robert  de  Vieux-Pont,  314 
Robert,  the  son  of  Wymarc, 

189,  190 
Roche  -  Mabille,    foundation 

of,  120 

Rochester,  219 
church  of,  suit  relating 

to,  434-436 

see  Gundulf ,  bishop  of. 

Roger  de  Beaumont,  166, 1 81 , 
-,  *5*.  564.  209,  348 
Roger  de  Busli,  441 
Roger,  earl  of  Hereford,  372, 

408,  426 

- — revolt  01,  328-335 
Roger  de  Montgomery,  earl 

ot    Shrewsbury,    39,    120,  • 


408,  425,  427-439.  433 

de  Toeny,  75 
duke  of  Normandy, 
24-27,  30 
Roxnney,  215,  216 
Rotrou,  count  of  Mortagne, 

Rouen,  87,  351,  3$9 

-  priory  of  St.  Gervase  at, 
3^9,  373 

Rudolph  of  Burgundy,  king 

of  West  Franks,  26 
Rye,  83 


St.  Albans,  abbey  of,  449 

-  schools  of,  398 
St.  Aubin,  103,  234 

St.  Benet  of  Holme,  abbey 
of,  sec  Alfwold,  abbot. 

-  knight  service  due  from, 

St.  Davids,  visited  by  Wil- 

liam I.,  353 

St.  James,  castle  of,  138 
St.  Omer,  258 
St.  Suzanne,  siege  of,  359- 

362,  372 

St.  Valery,  166,  183,  184 
St.  Wandville,  39,  68 
Saintonge,  88-90,  127 
Salisbury,  277,  285 

oath  of,  364-366 

Osmund,    bishop 

-  sec 

Samson,     Queen 

messenger,  347 
Sandwich,  172,  173 
Sarthe,  valley  of,  134,  312 
"Sawold,"  sheriff  of  Oxford, 


Sees,  translation  of,  391,  392 
Seine,  valley  of,  25,  112 
Sheriffs,  Norman,  422 

-  English,  423 
Shrewsbury,   276,  283 

-  earldom  of,   167,  425, 

-  see   Hugh,    Roger,    de 
Montgomery,  earls  of. 

Sicily,  volunteers  from,  x6* 


Sigurd    Qerusalem-farer), 

king  oiNorway,  4 
Sille*,  castle  of,  310-313 

see  Hueh  of. 

Simon  de 

Valois  and  1 

r,   count  of 
Vexin,  368 

SiwardBarn,  372 
Siward,  earl  of  Northumbria, 
49,  57,  5»,  US.  3*8,  3^9 

House  of,  325 

Sogne  Fiord,  176 
Soissons,  county  of,  100 
Somme,  estuary  of,  183 
Sorel,  castle  of,  346 
Southwark,  51,  54,  3*9,, 
South-well  (Notts),  church  of, 


Stafford,  252,  276,  278,  285, 

Stamford,  191 

Stamfordbridge,  battle  of,  48, 
177-179,  187,  189,  192 

saga  of,  176 

Stephen,  king  of  England, 
163,  219,  249 

Stigand,  archbishop  of  Can- 
terbury, 55,  5$,  225,  300 

submits  at  Wallingford, 

153,  22° 

— "accompanies  William  to 
Normandy,  2 

»»»•— -— —  —  j  i      ~*T*T 

—  deposition  of,  389 

Subinfeudation,  446-450 

Sulung,  the,  469 

Sussex,  devastation  of,  188 

earldom  of,  428 

ports  of,  53 

Swegen  Estrithson,  king  of 
Denmark,  160,  253,  255, 
270,  271,  290,  291,294,334. 

Swegen  Forkbeard,  king  of 

Denmark,  4,  15. 44, 46,  272 
Swegen,  son  of  Cnut,  46 
Swegen,  son  of  Earl  Godwine, 


Tactics,  197,  198 
Tadcaster,  177,  191 

Tapestry,  the  Bayeux,  166, 

201, 202 

Taw,  river,  270 

Tees,  river,  58,  282,  317,  320, 

Tdham,  199 

Terouenne,  306 

Thegns,  23 8-240, 447.  448. 

Theobald  III.,  count  of  Blois, 

Theodoric,  count  of  Holland, 

Thomas    I.,    archbishop    of 

York,  390 

Thorney,  abbey  of,  288 
Thorold,  abbot  of  Peterbor- 
ough, 280-201,  295 
Thurcytel  de  Neufmarche,  72 
Thurstan,  abbot  of  Ely,  300 
Thurstan,  abbot  of  Glaston- 

bury,  39_Q 
Thurstan  Goz,  revolt  of,  78 

Richard,  son  of,  78,  97 

Tilli&res,  76-78,  117,  123 
Title  to  English  crown,  149- 

153,  232,  233 
Tochi  (Tokig),  son  of  Outi, 

169,  238 

Tokig  of  Wallinrford,  348 
Tostig,  earl  of  Northumbria, 

9,57-60,  109. 171-1791  3*9 
Tours,  schools  of,  41 
Trade,  53, 65, 109 
Treaty  of  1054,  116, 117,  130 
Truce  of  God,  36, 380 
Tyne,  river,  176, 35° 

Ulfketil,  abbot  of  Crowland, 

Units  of  assessment,  467-469 » 

47L  472.474, 475 
Urse  d'Abetot,  333,  423,  4*4 


Val-es-dunes,  battle  of,   79, 

80,  84,  85,  380 
Valognes,  82,  87,  IPX 
Valois,  House  of,  368 


lO     yv»».-.»—  -  —  -  —  f 

see  Simon,  Ralf  ,  counts 

°f-  .     T, 

Value  of  manors  in  Domes- 

day, 480-482 
Varaville,  battle  of,  37,  122, 

X2%    I4Q 

Vermandois,  county  of,  27 
Vernon,  castle  of,  82,  86 
Vexin  Francais,  68,  129,  FM, 

Virejerttiary  of,  83     ^r 
Vulgm,  bishop  of  Le  Mans, 


Walchcr  of  Lorraine,  351 

-  bishop  of  Durham,  324 

-  earl    of   Northumbria, 

-iraitor  of,  352,  4i6 
Waleran,   brother   of   Guy, 

count  of  Ponthieu,  115 
Waleran,  count  of  Meulan,  75 
Wales,  432 
-  expedition    into,    353, 

Waflingford,  220 
Walter  Giffard,  102, 167, 408 
Walter  de  Lacy,  333 
Walter  of  Mantes,  129,  131, 


Walter  Tirel,  170 
Waltham,  minster  of,  207 
Waltheof,earlof  Huntingdon, 

60,231,261,  295,303»345 

submits  at  Barking,  234 



joins  Danish  attack  on 
York,  273,  274 

—  submits  by  the  Tees, 

—  created  earl  of  North- 
umbria,  395 

—  disaffection  of   (1075) 

condemnation  and  exe- 
cution, 336-340 

Warwick,  264 

-  earldom  of,  167 
Watling  Street,  13,  420 
Wearmouth,  321 
Wedmore,  treaty  of,  25 
Westminster,  157,  251.  287, 


-  abbey  of,  225,  260,  261. 
—  charters  relating  to,  229, 

Wharfe,  river,  176,  177 
Wight,  Isle  of,  54,  i72»  35^. 


Wigod  of  Wallingford,  169 
William,  duke  of  Aquitaine, 

William,  count  of  Arques,  70, 

'revolt  of,  101-105 


William  Busac,  96 
-  revolt  of,  99,  100 
William,  count  of  Eu,  70 
William,  count  of  Evreux, 

William  of  Jumieges,  chron- 

icler, 65,  69,  381 
William  Malet,  269,  275 
William  of  Malmesbury,  his- 

torian, 382 

William  de  Montgomery,  72 
William,  count  of  Mortain, 

William  de  Moulins,  314 
William  I.  (Longswonft,  duke 

of  Normandy,  27,  28 
William  II.,  duke  of  Nor- 
mandy and  king  of  Eng- 
land, 4,  5.  7,  9,  «S.  37, 
40,  48,  56;  birth  of,  63, 
64;  recognised  as  heir 
of  Normandy,  70,  71;  mi- 
nority of,  72-80;  ward  of 
King  Henry  I.,  73.  74; 
in  war  of  Tilheres,  76- 
So;  suppresses  revolt  of 
1047,  80-88;  besieges  Bri- 
onne,  85,  86;  supports 
Henry  I.  against  Geoffrey 
Martel,  90;  captures  Dom- 
front  and  Alen$on,  91-05; 
banishes  William,  count 


William  II.  (Continued) 
of   Mortain,   97-90;    sup- 
presses revolt  of  William 
Busac,  99,  100 ;  suppresses 
revolt  of  William  of Arques, 
101-105;  marries  Matilda 
of  Flanders,  105-110;  re- 
sists invasion  of  1054, 110- 
117;  concludes  peace  with 
King  Henry  L,  116,  117; 
founds  Breteuil,  117;  en- 
gages in  war  of  Ambridres, 
x  1 8-1  20 ;    founds    Roche- 
Mabille,   120;  defeats  in- 
vasion of  1058,  120-123; 
wins  battle  of  Varaville, 
122,    123;    receives   com- 
mendation of  Herbert  II. 
of  Maine,  118,  130;  inva- 
sion and  conquest  of  Maine, 
132-135;  takes  possession 
of  Le  Mans,  133,  134;  ill- 
ness of,  136,  137;  engages 
in    Breton    campaign    of 
1064,    137-139;  jdie£   of 
Dol  and  siege  of  Dinan, 
139*    140;  position  of,  at 
close    of    1064,    140-142; 
first  visit  to  England,  146; 
claim  to  English  throne, 
150-152;    receives    oath 
from  Harold,  earl  of  Wes- 
sex,  153-157;  negotiations 
with  foreign  powers,  160; 
submits  his  cause  to  the 
pope,  161-163;  gathers  an 
army,  164,  165*  168;  and 
fleet,    165-168;    demands 
fulfilment  of  Harold's  oath, 
170;  receives  Earl  Tostig, 
172;  preparations  for  the 
invasion  of  England,  180, 
181;  delayed  at  the  Dive 
estuary,  182,  183;  at  St. 
Valery,  183, 184;  voyage  to 
England,    185;    lands    at 
Pevensey,  185, 186;  builds 
castles  at  Pevensey  and 
Hastings,  187,  188;  devas- 
tations in  Sussex,  1 88;  re- 
ceives   a    message    from 

Harold,  189,  190;  battle  of 
Hastings,  195-206;  gener- 
alship of,  197,  198;  moves 
out  of  Hastings  to  the 
English  position,  199;  de- 
tails of  battle,.  200-206; 
causes  Harold's  burial  on 
the  shore  of  Hastings,  207; 
takes  quarters  at  Hastings, 
2i  i  ;  march  on  London, 
2  1  5-2  19  ;  burns  Southwark, 
219,  220  ;  crosses  Thames 
at  Wallingfprd,  220:  re- 
ceives submission  of  Eng- 
lish leaders,  221,  222;  re- 
ceives offer  of  the  crown, 
222,  223:  dealings  with 
"Esegar1*  the  Stafier,  224* 
225;  coronation,  225,  226; 
builds  Tower  of  London, 
227;  extent  of  his  authority 
1066-7,  230,  231;  at  Bark- 
ing, 227,  233,  234;  grants 
charter  to  citizens  of  Lon- 
don, 240,  241;  visits  Nor- 
mandy, 241,  243-246;  re- 
turn, 246  ;  suppresses  revolt 


in  Cornwall,  259,  260;  at 
Westminster  for  Matilda's 
coronation,  260;  northern 
campaign  of  1068,  262-266; 
receives  submission  of  Mal- 
colm III.,  265,  266;  ap- 
points Robert  de  Comines 
earl  of  Northumbria,  267; 
second  visit  to  York,  269; 
in  forest  of  Dean,  272; 
march  on  Lindsey,  275, 
276;  at  Stafford,  276,  2177; 
at  Nottingham,  278;  at 
Pontefract,  278,  270;  har- 
rying of  Northumbria,  279- 
381,  286,  287;  Christmas 
feast  at  York,  282;  march 
to  the  Tees  and  return  to 
York,  282,  283;  march  to 
Chester,  283-285;  agree- 
ment with  Earl  Asbiorn, 
285;  campaign  of  Ely; 
297-299;  relations  with 



William  II.  (Contimud) 
Robert  the  Frisian,   306, 
307;  suppression  of  Mancel 
rising,  312,  313;  campaign 

of  La  PRche',  313, 314;  con- 
cludes peace  of  Blanche- 
lande,  3*4-3*7;  relations 
with  Malcolm  III.,  317- 
323;  treaty  of  Abernethy, 
323;  creation  of  earldom 
of  Richmond,  324;  dealings 
with  Edgar  the  Etheling, 
325-327;  relations  with, 
and  condemnation  of,  Earl 
Waltheof,  336-340;  en- 
gages in  Breton  war  of 
1076,  341,  342;  last  phase 
of  reign,  its  character, 
344,  34S:  relations  with 
Robert,  345,346,  348-35o; 
campaign  of  Gerberoi,  347. 
348;  movements  during 
1080,  351;  expedition  into 
Wales,  353,  354".  arrest  of 
Odo  of  Bayeux,  355-358; 
death  of  Queen  Matilda, 
358,  359;  campaign  of  St. 
Suzanne,  359-301;  pre- 
pares for  a  Scandinavian 
invasion,  363,  364;  takes 
Oath  of  Salisbury,364-j66; 
last  departure  from  Eng- 
land, 366;  campaign  of 
Mantes,  .368,  369;  mortal 
injury  of,  369;  illness  of, 
370-373;  disposition  of  in- 
heritance, 371;  release  of 
prisoners,  372;  death,  373; 
burial,  374. 375;  ecclesias- 
tical ideas  of,  376-378, 381; 
reform  of  English  church, 
388-402;  relations  with 
the  Curia,  402,  403;  ad- 
ministrative changes  in- 
troduced by, — see  under 
castles,  Commune  Concil- 
ium, Curia  Regis,  earldoms, 
fyrd,  knight  service,  pri- 
vate jurisdiction,  sheriffs, 

writs;     orders    taking    of 
Domesday  Inquest,  457 
William  IL,  king  of  England, 

«9» *33» 369, 37i 

William  fitz  Osbern,  earl  of 
Hereford,  93, 117, 230, 231, 
261,  269,  287,  328,  414, 
425-427,  433.  49« 

contributes  to  fleet,  166 

regent  of  England,  243, 

246,  415 

death,  306 

William  Peverel,  451 

William  of  Poitiers,  biog- 
rapher, 90,  381 

William,  archbishop  of  Rou- 

en, 403, 404 
f™"-n  de  Wa 


William  de  Warenne,   243, 

Wirnund,  commander  of  Mou- 

lins,  105 
Winchelsea,  251 
Winchester,  2x8,   219,    254, 

260,   269,   277,  282,  337, 

364,  419 
Witanagemot,  17,  20 

nature  of,  410-414 

Woodstock  (Oxfordshire)  420 
Worcestershire,  333,  426 
Writs,  the  king's,  168,  254, 
420,  421 

early     Anglo-Norman, 


Wulf  ,  son  of  King  Harold,  3  72 
Wulfnoth,  son  of  Earl  God- 
wine,  212,  372 
Wulfstan,  bishop  of  Worces- 
ter, 230,333,391 
Wulfwig,    bishop    of    Dor- 
chester, 232 
Wycet  valley  of,  354 

York,  49,  *1*>  *77,  *9°»  W. 
252, 254, 262-265, 268, 269, 
a73-»75. ^279,282-285 

church  of,  335,  385 

kingdom  of,  7 

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